According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, one in four Canadian adults is at high risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea. If you’re high-risk or already exhibiting signs of sleep apnea, it’s imperative to seek professional help as soon as possible.
Apnea is diagnosed through a process known as a sleep study. Though at-home testing options are available, most sleep studies are performed at a sleep clinic outfitted with equipment for assessing a sleeping patient’s breathing, heart rate, blood oxygen content and more.
Before undergoing a sleep study, a specialist will likely evaluate you for potential risk factors such as:
- Extra weight
- Excess thickness of the tongue, neck and other areas surrounding the upper airway
- Family history of sleep apnea
- Regular use of alcohol or other depressants
- Tobacco use
Gender and age might also impact a patient’s likelihood of having sleep apnea. Men are more likely to develop sleep apnea symptoms than women, and the risk of the disorder tends to increase with age.
However, it’s important to remember that virtually anyone can develop sleep apnea – women, children and people with medical histories of all kinds. What doesn't change is that people who are suffering from sleep apnea face a significant risk to their health.