Anyone can have sleep apnea. Young, old, male, female, fit, or overweight, sleep apnea is a condition that can present itself in even the healthiest of bodies. However, there are certain risk factors that can greatly increase the likelihood of developing the disorder.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea Risk Factors:
- Obesity: Overweight or obese patients often have excess fatty tissue around the upper airway, which can obstruct breathing during sleep.
- Family history: Several factors of sleep apnea are hereditary, so patients who have sleep apnea sufferers in their family are at a greater risk for developing the condition as well.
- Small lower jaw: A small jaw may allow the tongue to fall back against the soft palate during sleep, which can block the airway.
- Large tonsils: Enlarged tonsils can obstruct the windpipe and lead to breathing difficulties during sleep.
- Male: Men are reported to be twice as likely as women to have sleep apnea.
- Large neck: Patients who have large necks often have narrower airways.
- Alcohol consumption: Alcohol relaxes the muscles in the throat and disrupts the body’s natural sleep patterns, so patients who regularly drink are much more likely to develop sleep apnea.
- Nasal congestion: Patients who have regular nasal congestion and allergies are more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea.
Central Sleep Apnea Risk Factors
- Male: Men are more likely to develop central sleep apnea.
- Age: Central sleep apnea is much more prevalent in patients over the age of 65, especially if other risk factors are present.
- Heart disorders: Patients with atrial fibrillation or congestive heart failure have a greater probability of developing central sleep apnea.
- Stroke or brain tumor: Brain abnormalities can impair the way it regulates breathing.