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Five Common Things That Increase Your Risk for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) knows no limits when it comes to who can develop this potentially life-threatening condition. OSA has been diagnosed in adults (and even kids!) of all ages, ethnicities, and genders. And doctors are quickly discovering there’s no set profile when it comes to who should be tested for this treatable sleeping disorder.

However, there are some common characteristics and habits that make us more at risk for developing obstructive sleep apnea.

So if you identify with any of the following common risk factors, get tested for obstructive sleep apnea right away – especially if you’ve noticed other signs like fatigue or snoring. It could save your life.

Risk Factors for Developing OSA


Carrying too much excess weight can lead to a higher likelihood of developing obstructive sleep apnea, simply because of the added pressure on your throat muscles and airway.

Similarly, people with a larger neck circumference have a noticeably higher risk for OSA. For men this means a greater than 17 inch neck circumference. And for women, it means greater than 15 inches.


Alcohol Use

Because alcohol is a muscle relaxant, drinking too much alcohol close to bedtime can lead to a higher risk of obstructive sleep apnea.

For those who already have an OSA diagnosis, alcohol will heighten and increase episodes of apnea. The best thing to do is to limit your use and have it only at least 3 hours before bedtime.



Smoking is obviously bad for your health in a number of ways, and that includes your risk for developing or enhancing obstructive sleep apnea.

Smokers have airway tissues that are prone to swelling, due to the irritable nature of the smoke itself. So it’s more likely for their nose and throats to be narrower, making it harder for air to pass through.



While obstructive sleep apnea can affect both men and women, it still remains more common in men.

In fact, middle-aged men are twice as likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea than women in the same age group. Hence there is some credence to sleep apnea’s old moniker as the “middle-aged men’s disease.”


Existing conditions and family history

Some medical conditions seem to go hand in hand with obstructive sleep apnea, such as type II diabetes or high blood pressure. This is because the two conditions enhance and exacerbate each other.

But in addition to these health problems, which tend to indicate a higher risk for OSA, there are some familial traits that may play a role as well.

For one thing, if you’ve inherited a few physical characteristics like a narrow jawline, your sleep apnea risk might be noticeably higher than someone without a similar physical make-up.


If You’re at Risk, Get Tested

Some folks may have huge red flags that obstructive sleep apnea is a problem, such as snoring and restless sleep. Others may suffer in relative silence and show no signs of the condition until it reaches severe proportions.

As such, the most important thing a person can do if they are concerned about their risk for sleep apnea is to get tested and diagnosed. Because treatments are seamless and affordable, there’s no excuse to ignore the signs, and to let this dangerous condition get worse.


If you experience any of these risk factors, or if your partner snores or gasps for breath at night, contact us here right away. We can get you on track with testing for sleep apnea.

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Five Common Things That Increase Your Risk for Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea can occur in anyone, but there are some common habits and physical features that can increase the risk. Here’s a closer look at common factors that can enhance or trigger OSA.

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