What Increases Your Risk

Certain things make it more or less likely that you will have obstructive sleep apnea. Some of these you cannot change, while others you can.

Things you can't change

  • Aging.Sleep apnea is most common in people age 30 and older.
  • Being male.Sleep apnea is more common in men.
  • Family history. If other members of your family have sleep apnea, you are more likely to have it than someone who doesn't have a family history of it.
  • Ethnicity. Hispanics and Pacific Islanders have a greater risk of sleep apnea than whites. Blacks tend to get sleep apnea at a younger age than whites.
  • Deformities of the spine. Deformities of the spine, such as scoliosis, may interfere with breathing and contribute to sleep apnea.
  • Conditions that may cause head and face abnormalities. Conditions such as Marfan's syndrome and Down syndrome may result in abnormalities and increase the risk for sleep apnea.
  • Menopause. Sleep apnea tends to occur more often in women who have been through menopause than in women who have not. After menopause, women get sleep apnea at a rate similar to men.1 Experts don't know why or how menopause increases the risk of sleep apnea.

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