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Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea – Covington, GA

Are You at Risk of OSA?

Are you at risk of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)? Millions of people suffer from this condition, and millions more may have it but remain undiagnosed. Anyone could develop OSA, regardless of their age, gender, or lifestyle. However, some people are more vulnerable to it than others. What are some risk factors for sleep apnea that you should be aware of? Here are some of the most common:

Nonmodifiable Risk Factors

Older couple sitting on the sofa at home

Some risk factors for sleep apnea are beyond your control, including:

  • Natural anatomical abnormalities. Due to their genetics, some people are born with a naturally narrow airway or enlarged tonsils or adenoids. These factors can make it more difficult for oxygen to flow freely during sleep.
  • Biological sex. People who are biologically male tend to suffer from OSA more frequently than biological females. The exact reasons for this are unclear, although it may be related to hormones or subtle anatomical differences between the sexes.
  • OSA tends to occur more frequently in older individuals than it does in younger folks. It is also worth noting that while younger women have a much lower risk of OSA than men, postmenopausal women have roughly the same risk of OSA as men.
  • Family history. If anyone in your immediate family has been diagnosed with sleep apnea, you should always be aware of the possibility that it may afflict you as well.

Modifiable Risk Factors

Person stepping on scale to check their weight

Some risk factors for sleep apnea may be within your power to change, including:

  • OSA is more common among obese individuals than it is among those who carry less body fat around their neck and abdomen. Extra fat can place pressure on the airway and increase the risk of snoring and pauses in breathing.
  • Smoking causes inflammation and irritation in the upper airway, which can cause it to constrict. Snoring and sleep apnea may be the result. Plus, because smoking negatively affects lung function, it can further worsen the quality of your nighttime breathing.
  • Use of alcohol or certain medications. Alcohol, as well as certain medications (such as sedatives or some types of painkillers), can cause muscles throughout the body to relax, including airway muscles. As a result, they may collapse during sleep.
  • Nasal congestion. Allergies and respiratory infections can cause temporary nasal congestion, which may make it more difficult for you to breathe through your nose. Often, mouth breathing is a contributor to obstructive sleep apnea.

What Should You Do?

Patient and doctor talking during medical consultation

If you have one or more of the above risk factors, that does not necessarily mean that you are doomed to develop sleep apnea. However, if you have been feeling tired lately or your partner has complained that you snore a lot, it would be worth your time to request a sleep test. If you are officially diagnosed with OSA, the team at Covington Sleep Center would be happy to help you explore your treatment options so you can get back to sleeping well and feeling good! Contact us today to learn more about how we may be able to serve you.