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Symptoms and Risk Factors of Sleep Apnea

Symptoms and Risk Factors of Sleep Apnea

Symptoms

The most common symptom of sleep apnea is snoring. However, not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. Snoring is likely to be a sign of sleep apnea when it is followed by silent breathing pauses and choking or gasping sounds. 

People with sleep apnea often suffer from daytime sleepiness or fatigue. Common symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Loud or frequent snoring

  • Silent pauses in breathing

  • Choking or gasping sounds

  • Daytime sleepiness or fatigue

  • Unrefreshing sleep

  • Insomnia

  • Morning headaches

  • Nocturia (frequently waking up during the night)

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Memory loss

  • Irritability 

  • Decreased sexual desire

Risk Factors

The major risk factor for sleep apnea is excess body weight. You are more likely to develop sleep apnea if you are overweight or obese. However, excess body weight is not the only risk factor for sleep apnea. Common risk factors for sleep apnea include:

  • Excess weight: Your risk for sleep apnea is higher if you are overweight with a body mass index (BMI) of 25+ or obese with a BMI of 30+ or higher.

  • Large neck size: Your risk of sleep apnea is higher if you have a neck size of 17 inches or more for men, or 16 inches or more for women. A large neck has more soft tissue that can block you airway during sleep. 

  • Age: Sleep apnea can occur at any age. However, it is more common between young adulthood and middle age. 

  • Hypertension: High blood pressure is extremely common in people with sleep apnea. 

  • Family history: Sleep apnea can be a heritable condition. This means that you may have a higher risk of developing sleep apnea if a family member has it. Inherited traits that can increase sleep apnea are obesity and physical features such as a recessed jaw.