Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a common disease, and more often than not, the individual with sleep apnea might not be aware that they have this condition. Anyone can be a victim of OSA regardless of age, gender, and background, but it is more likely that the risk increases as you grow older because your muscles start to lose its tone. Men are also highly known to have sleep apnea, however post menopausal women quickly become more responsive as well. Family history of snoring and diagnosed sleep apnea can also increase your chances of this condition. The following are some signs and symptoms of individuals who are more prone to having obstructive sleep apnea. Excess weight/Obesity In many cases, over half of those diagnosed with apnea are usually over weight or obese. Excess weight can cause the build up of fatty tissues around the airway which directly links to breathing. It leads to the restriction of airflow as the tissues create more weight for the throat muscles and raises the chances of apnea and hypopnoea events. Regardless of age, overweight children may also be at an increased risk for sleep apnea. Excess tissue/Facial Structure Physical features can also be a simple way to predict the risk of sleep apnea. Facial characteristics with a small lower jaw, large neck circumference, or enlarged tonsils in their throats are more prone to the disease in both children and adults. Having a large neck circumference indicates there are many fatty tissues or muscular build surrounding the airway acting as a strong predictor of OSA. A person born with smaller airways in their nose, throat, or mouth increases the chance of apnea events as the collapse of the muscles in the airway are a lot faster. Those that have recurring allergies or sinus congestions also suffer from frequent restriction of the airways. Lifestyle Personal habits such as smoking irritate the lungs and throat and causes inflammation in the lungs. Upper airway Inflammation induces swelling and coughing disrupting smooth airflow during sleep which aggravates the severity of sleep apnea. Furthermore, heavy consumption of alcohol and sedatives induces the body to relax as this promotes the muscles of the airway to weaken to the point of collapse. Drinking alcohol too close to bedtime can lengthen the duration of apnea episodes. Sleep apnea is also highly linked to individuals with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Evidence from symptoms of sleep apnea lead to many dangers related to oxygen deprivation resulting in stroke and heart failure. If you are concerned you may have sleep apnea, visit your doctor for a sleep study referral to get diagnosed by a sleep specialist directly. Written by Yvonne.