The risk factors for Sleep Apnea

Why neck size matters

SAN ANTONIO – Sleep Apnea can be seen in both adults and children. Both women and men also have a chance of being diagnosed with the disorder, but there are certain characteristics that can increase risk. 

Weight and age are the biggest risk factors. Men over 40 years old and women over 50 years old have a higher risk. Being a smoker is another factor. 

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Doctors also consider neck size when it comes to sleep apnea. More fatty tissue in the neck increases the likelihood the airway will be blocked during sleep. A large neck size for men is considered more than 17 inches. For women, a large neck size is considered more than 16 inches. 

Amanda Brosnan, a physician's assistant with the University Health System, says if you are concerned, "Bring up how you're sleeping. It's a question that we're missing in the office visit."

A CPAP or BIPAP can treat sleep apnea by keeping the patient's airway open and allowing for a full night's rest. The treatment usually lasts longer than a couple days or months. 

"Often it is life-long but I say it's a life-saver. It's saving your life and preventing other conditions from getting worse," Brosnan says.

The CPAP and BiPAP run quietly but some patients are concerned about sleeping with a mask. One of Brosnan's patients learned a tip for that issue. 

"If you put it on as soon as you start feeling sleepy. No problems at all," David Gonzalez said. 

Research shows men have twice the risk of having sleep apnea. It's important to treat sleep apnea because it can make conditions like heart disease and diabetes worse. If you are concerned, you may want to speak with your doctor about a sleep study.


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