There are certain factors that may make a person more or less likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Many of these factors are beyond a person’s control. Coupled with such things as excess pounds, smoking, drinking and a generally unhealthy lifestyle, it is even more likely that down the road you could become a patient of sleep apnea. Let’s take a look at factors you cannot change in regard to sleep apnea.
Age is one factor. More people thirty years and older experience sleep apnea with the highest occurrences being in men over the age of forty.
Sleep apnea is far more common in men than it is in women. It is believed that on average twelve to twenty million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, ranging from mild to moderate to severe. Breaking this down into gender, approximately twenty-four percent of men in the general population have it while only nine percent of women do. Premenopausal women are less likely to suffer from sleep apnea then menopausal or post menopausal women and for reasons unclear to researchers, the occurrence of the sleep disorder is more evenly matched among the sexes after women are finished with menopause. Many studies have been done looking at the gender gap in relation to sleep apnea. Some studies point to the fact that it is two to three times more widespread in males than in females. However research studies done in sleep clinics across the country have shown results that men are five to six times more likely to experience this health problem.
Genetics plays a role in this disorder, however how large a role is unknown. If there is a family history of sleep apnea, whether it be males or females you are more likely to develop it at some point in your lifetime. There seems to be a genetic predisposition towards sleep apnea while people who have family history are less likely to become afflicted by it.
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Race also plays a role according to researchers. Those of African American ethnicity as well as Hispanics and Pacific Islanders are more likely to develop the problem than are Caucasians. However that does not mean that Caucasians never develop it at all but it is in reduced rates in relation to other races. Black people tend to develop sleep apnea earlier in their lives than do Caucasian individuals.
Any medical condition that interferes with the breathing process can contribute to the onset of sleep apnea. In particular deformities to do with the spine such as scoliosis can cause problems and may bring it on.
Health conditions such as Down syndrome or Marfan’s syndrome that contribute to abnormalities of the head and face known as craniofacial problems can greatly increase a person’s chances of developing sleep apnea.
As mentioned earlier, menopause seems to play a role in developing sleep apnea. Women going through menopause are more likely to develop it than are younger women and the occurrence rates in the sexes are more evenly matched after menopause comes to an end.