Sleep Apnea Causes

What Causes Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a period of time when you do not breathe. The bad part is you probably do not even realize you are not breathing because you are asleep. Statistics show that 90% of people who suffer from sleep apnea do not even know they have a problem. This may happen hundreds of times a night. If this disorder is not caught and treated it can be life-threatening.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common type and is caused by an obstruction which halts the air flow to the nose and mouth. Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) is less common than OSA. It is a disorder of the central nervous system that happens when the brain delays telling the body to breathe. This can be caused by many things.

For instance, brain tumors are one. A chronic respiratory disease, a viral brain infection or a stroke can cause CSA. Causes are different for all types of sleep apnea but the end result is the same – loss of oxygen, not enough sleep and ultimately death if it is not treated.

Some other causes of sleep apnea are being overweight. This is not a determining factor though. Half the people who have sleep apnea are not overweight. Other causes include a deviated septum, a receding chin, an enlarged tongue and even the shape of your head and neck. These are physical features that will cause the problem.

If your type of sleep apnea is obstructive, your throat closes while you are sleeping, which keeps air from reaching the lungs. Whether it is due to alcohol, drugs or just the aging process the muscles in the throat and tongue relax more when you are asleep. This type of sleep apnea may be genetic. The reason may be due to an anatomic abnormality. Or it could be a medical condition – irregardless this is a dangerous disorder.

Another reason for sleep apnea is the blockage of the nasal passages. This could be because you have allergies or a cold or even sinusitis. Smoking is another culprit.

Signs of Sleep Apnea

Some signs to watch for if you suspect sleep apnea, are being sleepy in the daytime and feeling like you did not get enough rest, choking during the night or gasping for air, periods of silence from the sleeping individual that happen often during the night and loud snoring. While snoring itself is not an indication of sleep apnea, it can mean abnormalities that could contribute to the condition.

Hopefully you have a sleeping partner that can tell you if any of these things are happening while you are sleeping. If not, there are other ways to determine if you are suffering from sleep apnea. Set up a tape recorder before going to bed to see if you capture the sounds of someone who is gasping for air as they sleep. This should tell you if you are having problems with this disorder. The tape recorder will capture it if so because this happens many, many times a night. If you suspect that you are a sufferer of sleep apnea, make an appointment and see a doctor or go to a sleep lab. Your very life may depend on doing this.

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