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Sleep Apnea - Symptoms & Risk Factors

Symptoms

The symptom most commonly associated with sleep apnea is snoring. Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. If snoring is paired with choking or gasping sounds, it is likely to be sleep apnea.

Daytime fatigue is another common symptom.

The symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Loud or frequent snoring
  • Choking or gasping while you sleep
  • Pauses in breathing
  • Morning headaches
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Insomnia due to difficulty staying asleep
  • Waking up with dry mouth or a sore throat
  • Frequent need to urinate during the night
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Memory or learning problems
  • Moodiness, irritability or depression

Risk Factors

A common misconception is that sleep apnea only affects older, overweight men. This widely-held assumption is wrong: anyone can have sleep apnea, regardless of gender, age or body type. If you have any of the following traits you may be at increase risk:

  • Excess weight – An adult with a BMI of 25 or higher is considered to be overweight. Your risk of sleep apnea increases with the amount of excess body weight.
  • Large neck size (>17 inches for men, > 16 inches for women) – A large neck will have more fatty tissue that can block your airway.
  • Older age (40+ for men, 50+ for women) Sleep apnea occurs more often in older adults, especially people older than 60.
  • Being male – Men have twice the risk having sleep apnea compared to women
  • Smoker – Smokers have a higher risk of sleep apnea
  • Hypertensive – High blood pressure is very common in people with sleep apnea
  • Family history – Sleep apnea can appear more often among family members. This may be a result of either inherited traits or common lifestyles.
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