While the two types of sleep apnea — which is characterized by repeated cessation of breathing while sleeping — can happen to anyone at any age, there are indeed conditions that make it more likely that you could be suffering from the condition.
First, let’s look at the two types of sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is characterized by an obstruction of the airway, usually by a collapse of the soft tissue in the back of the throat. Central sleep apnea, which is the less frequent of the two, is caused by the brain’s failing to signal the muscles to breathe due to instability in the respiratory control center.
With these definitions in mind, let’s now examine the underlying factors that could signal you might be a victim of sleep apnea:
- You’re male
- You’re over 40
- You’re overweight
- You have a large neck size (17 inches in men and 16 inches in women)
- You have a large tongue, large tonsils or small jaw bone
- You have a family history of sleep apnea
- You suffer from GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux
- You suffer from nasal obstruction due to a deviated septum, allergies or sinus problems
- You’ve been told you snore incessantly at night and suffer bouts of breathing cessation
Those are typically indicative of problems associated with sleep apnea. If you fall into this pattern of indicators, you should seek professional evaluation and help. You’re only shortchanging your daily functioning and fulfillment in life if you don’t deal with your sleep problems.