Risk Factors for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that impacts roughly 18 million Americans. It is characterized by repetitive episodes of complete or partial obstruction of your upper airways. This results in sleep disruptions and even low oxygen levels while you sleep. Untreated obstructive sleep apnea can lead to serious health issues, including hypertension, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes. It can also impact your daily life as it can cause fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and even mood swings due to poor sleep quality. Below you will find the top risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea.

Risk Factors for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

There are several factors that increase your risk for obstructive sleep apnea. Some are within one’s control. However, others are not. Consider the following factors and talk with a sleep specialist about your risk level.


The natural aging process causes the muscles in your throat to weaken. This increases your risk for obstructive sleep apnea. However, your risk levels off as you reach your 60s and 70s.

Excess Weight:

Most people with the condition are overweight. Excess fat around your upper airway can obstruct your breathing and increase your risk for obstructive sleep apnea.

Family History:

A number of medical conditions can be hereditary, including obstructive sleep apnea. If you have close family members who have the condition, you are at an increased risk for it.


Smoking can increase inflammation and fluid retention in your upper airways. This can increase your risk for obstructive sleep apnea, in addition to other harmful health issues.


Sex plays a role in your level of risk as men are up to three times more likely to have the condition as compared to women. However, the risk for obstructive sleep apnea for women increases after menopause.


Diabetes is often associated with obesity. Excess weight places you at a higher risk for developing sleep apnea, especially among those who are also overweight.


Also referred to as “high blood pressure,” hypertension can increase your risk for having sleep apnea. This is because hypertension can cause the blood vessels in your neck to become stiffer and narrower.


Asthma is associated with airway inflammation and hyperresponsiveness. This can increase the likelihood of developing obstructive sleep apnea.

Chronic Nasal Congestion:

Chronic nasal congestion can increase your risk for mouth breathing and even cause breathing difficulties. These factors can increase your likelihood for obstructive sleep apnea.

Narrowed Airway:

Some people have narrow lung airways. The lack of space in your airways can increase your risk for obstructive sleep apnea.

Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

The following symptoms are associated with obstructive sleep apnea. If you experience on one more of the following, contact a sleep specialist for support right away.

  • Loud snoring
  • Daytime fatigue and difficulty concentrating
  • High blood pressure
  • Waking up abruptly, in addition to gasping or choking
  • Waking up with dry mouth or a sore throat
  • Mood changes, including irritability or depression
  • Headaches in the morning
  • Observed periods where you do not breathe during sleep
  • Decreased sex drive

Treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

If you experience any of the symptoms associated with obstructive sleep apnea, contact a medical sleep therapist. They can diagnose the condition and provide you with an effective treatment plan based on your unique needs. Many people avoid seeking treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. However, there are effective treatment methods that can improve your sleep without a bunch of tubes and noisy machines. Inspire airway stimulation is a highly safe and effective treatment method that can improve your sleep. Contact the team at Sleep MD today to schedule a consultation!

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