Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea – Tulsa, OK

Are You at Risk for OSA?

Silhouette of tired man sitting up in bed

According to some estimates, more than 20 million people in the U.S. suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Sadly, there may be millions more who have this condition but who have not yet received a diagnosis. Are you at risk for OSA? Knowing about the risk factors for this condition may motivate you to seek proper medical care in Tulsa if you ever notice that the quality of your sleep is suffering.

Modifiable Risk Factors

Obese man sitting up in bed

There are some risk factors for sleep apnea that you may have a measure of control over, including:

  • Your weight. If you are overweight or obese, there may be extra fatty tissue around your airway. It can interfere with your breathing and increase the risk that you will suffer apneas (periods of not breathing).
  • The use of alcohol and other sedatives. Alcohol and sedatives cause the entire body to relax, including the muscles that control the airway. Therefore, these substances may make tissues in the throat more likely to collapse and interfere with your breathing during sleep.
  • Smokers are three times as likely to develop sleep apnea than nonsmokers. That is because the smoke can irritate the airway and cause inflammation. This increases the risk of obstructions.

Nonmodifiable Risk Factors

Elegant senior woman sipping coffee

There are also some risk factors for sleep apnea that you cannot control. These include:

  • Anatomical abnormalities. Some individuals have a naturally narrow airway, enlarged tonsils, or other anatomical abnormalities that can interfere with breathing during sleep. Surgery or other treatments can sometimes correct such issues.
  • Your sex. Biological males are more likely to develop sleep apnea than biological females. The exact reasons for this are not clear, but it is something to be aware of if you are a man and have not been sleeping well lately. (As a side note, postmenopausal women have a higher risk than younger women.)
  • Your age. As you age, you may lose some strength in the muscles around your airway, and you may develop more fatty deposits around your neck. Therefore, OSA is more common in older individuals than it is in younger people.
  • Family history. Has anyone in your family been diagnosed with OSA? If so, there may be some genetic risk factors that could affect you as well.
  • Chronic nasal congestion. If you have allergies or other conditions that make it challenging to breathe through your nose, you may be more likely to experience pauses in breathing while you sleep.

Get the Help You Need

Woman sleeping peacefully in bed

The above risk factors do not guarantee that you will develop OSA, and an apparent lack of risk factors does not guarantee that you will always breathe well during sleep. If you ever believe that you are suffering from a sleep disorder, the best thing to do is call our practice so we can guide you on your next steps. We want everyone to be able to enjoy restful, rejuvenating sleep night after night!