July 20, 2020
The unfortunate truth is that virtually anyone can develop sleep apnea. That said, some people are more likely to develop it than others, and there are a number of key risk factors that can tell you whether or not you’re in this group. Keep reading to learn about 5 factors that could eventually lead to needing sleep apnea treatment.
1. Excess Weight
Obesity and sleep apnea are very closely related. When fat deposits start to build up around the neck, the chances of the airway becoming blocked during the night increase substantially. Furthermore, people with sleep apnea are also more likely to gain weight due to the lack of rest interfering with the hormones responsible for controlling appetite. Needless to say, gaining more weight could make your sleep apnea even worse, leading to a vicious cycle.
2. Narrowed Airway
The narrower the airway, the easier it is to obstruct. Some patients just naturally have airways that are narrower than usual; there’s also a chance that unremoved tonsils or adenoids could become enlarged and prevent air from flowing freely.
There’s seemingly no end to the different ways that smoking can have a negative impact on your health. Using any kind of tobacco product could lead to inflammation in the upper airway, and that in turn could cause an obstruction during sleep. It has been found that smokers are three times as likely to have obstructive sleep apnea as nonsmokers.
4. Family History
While your personal environment and lifestyle have a major influence on whether or not you develop sleep apnea, it’s important to note that having family members with sleep apnea does tend to increase personal risk as well. This could be for one of several reasons, such as an inherited narrow airway or a disposition to obesity.
5. Being Male
Men are two to three times more likely to suffer from the disorder than women due to their higher rate of obesity and a greater tendency to develop habits such as smoking. That said, women can still be at risk, especially after menopause. (The odds of sleep apnea occurring tend to increase with age for both men and women.)
None of these factors guarantee that a person will develop sleep apnea, but if they apply to you, you should definitely seek professional help if you notice symptoms of the disorder, such as loud snoring, exhaustion during the day, and general irritability.
About the Author
Dr. Kent Smith is the founding practitioner and chief medical officer of Sleep Dallas, and over the past 25 years, he has helped more than 10,000 patients overcome their sleep breathing disorders. He is double board-certified in dental sleep medicine, and he currently serves as the president of the American Sleep and Breathing Academy. If you believe you or a loved one is suffering from sleep apnea or would like to schedule an appointment, visit his website or call (844) 409-4657.