As you may already know, obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the breathing pathways through the mouth, nose or throat are collapsed or blocked. These airways are susceptible to blockages or collapse as the muscle tone lining these pathways relax during sleep.

These are some of the groups that are at a greater risk for developing sleep apnea.

You’re overweight. The biggest group at risk for sleep apnea is those that are overweight. Overweight individuals have excess tissue, which may place added pressure on the airway. In fact, more than half of those with sleep apnea are classified as being overweight. Because of this, it is important to tackle the issue at hand.

You’re a smoker. Smokers are three times more likely to suffer from obstructive sleep apnea than those that do not smoke. Why? Because smoking causes an increase of inflammation and fluid retention in the upper airway, which can further aggravate sleep apnea symptoms.  Both smoking and sleep apnea are deadly conditions that can severely shorten your lifespan when combined.

You’re male. Yes, that is right. Your gender also says a lot about sleep apnea and your chances of developing this condition. It is more common for men than women to develop sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is often more common in men than women. It is also more common among African Americans, Hispanics, and Pacific Islanders than Caucasians.

Contact Dr. Sara at AZ Sleep & TMJ Solutions in Scottsdale to learn more about sleep apnea and to find out if you are at risk. Early treatment is key to preventing further health complications caused by sleep apnea.