Sleep apnea can affect anyone, even children. However, certain factors will put you at an increased risk for sleep apnea. By understanding these risk factors, you can take charge of your health while getting a better night’s sleep. Let’s take a look at four risk factors for sleep apnea.

You use alcohol, sedatives, tranquilizers and smoke. If you drink alcohol or use sedatives or tranquilizers, the muscles in your throat will relax. As a result, your airway can become blocked, causing difficulty while sleeping. Smoking can negatively affect your sleep, too. Smokers are three times more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea than those who have never smoked. When a person smokes, it can also increase the amount of inflammation and fluid retention in the upper airway. However, your risk is likely to drop if you quit smoking, so please consider that option.

You have excess weight. If you are overweight, fat deposits around the upper airway can obstruct your breathing. And while a lot of people who are overweight suffer from sleep apnea, not everyone who is overweight will suffer from it. We can also see thin individuals or those at a healthy weight with sleep apnea, which means being overweight is not a definitive factor, but it does play a pivotal role.

You’re male and older. In comparison to women, men are twice as likely to suffer from sleep apnea. Unfortunately though, women can increase their risk of developing sleep apnea if they are overweight. A woman’s risk can also rise after menopause. Additionally, a person can be at risk for sleep apnea as they get older. Sleep apnea occurs significantly more often in adults older than 60 than they do in younger individuals. So be aware of your risks as you age.

You have a thicker neck circumference,  narrowed airway. According to research and various studies, neck circumference can also be a risk factor for sleep apnea. People with a thicker neck may have a narrower airway. And, when a person has a narrowed airway, which is often inherited, it can block your airway. Additionally, tonsils or adenoids may become enlarged, which block the airway and can cause difficulty in breathing—especially while sleeping.

Contact Dr. Sara at AZ Sleep & TMJ Solutions in Scottsdale to learn more about your risk for sleep apnea and what treatment options are available.