Friday, November 13, 2009

Risk Factors for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

It’s often thought that sleep apnea only affects older men. But sleep apnea actually affects people who have a wide range of risk factors.

Weight is a key indicator. People who are overweight and have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 to 29.9 or who are obese and have a BMI of 30 and above are often afflicted with sleep apnea.

Similarly, men and women with large neck sizes, 17 inches or more for men and 16 inches or more for women, are at risk. This is because extra neck weight can cause the airway to collapse during sleep. Sleeping on one’s side instead of one’s back can help take this pressure off the airway.

Middle-aged and older men and post-menopausal women are at a higher risk for sleep apnea, as are people who belong to an ethnic minority.

Anyone who has a family member with OSA should be on guard because they also have a higher risk.

Parents should make sure to watch for warning signs in their children. Kids with large tonsils can also experience these dangerous pauses in breath during sleep.

Adults and children with Down Syndrome make up a risk group, as do smokers. So if you were thinking of quitting smoking, lowering your risk of sleep apnea is yet another reason.

These are not all of the risk factors of sleep apnea, but they are a few key ones to keep in mind.

Anyone who snores loudly, or is told they gasp or choke in their sleep should see a doctor, as should anyone who feels excessively tired during the day or has morning headaches.

Think you might have sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea can be diagnosed at an accredited sleep center.

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The Official Blog of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) is intended as an information source only. Content of this blog should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment, and it is not a substitute for medical care, which should be provided by the appropriate health care professional. If you suspect you have a sleep-related breathing disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you should consult your personal physician or visit an AASM-accredited sleep disorders center. The AADSM, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, as the managing agent of the AADSM, assume no liability for the information contained on the Official Blog of the AADSM or for its use.