Sleep apnea is a condition that causes brief interruptions in breathing while asleep. It’s estimated roughly 18 million adult Americans have a form of apnea, however, it’s expected that number is far higher due to undiagnosed cases. With apnea causing multiple interruptions in breathing per night, with each interruption lasting as long as 30 seconds, it begins to take its toll on overall health and quality of life. Thankfully, with the right treatment, apnea is treatable as long as the underlying cause of the condition is discovered. What causes sleep apnea? There are numerous causes that can result in the condition.
What Causes Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of the condition, which results when the muscles in the back of the throat relax. The muscles that are responsible for supporting the soft palate, the uvula, the tonsils, and the side walls of the throat and tongue relax and cause the airways to become blocked. As the airway narrows, your ability to breath decreases, as well as the level of oxygen in the blood flow. As a result, your brain naturally senses the decreased oxygen, causing you to awaken at night to reopen the airway with snorting, choking, or gasping. Often, you won’t remember these episodes, but you’re likely to feel increased fatigue due to lack of quality sleep.
Central sleep apnea is another form of the condition that’s caused from the brain functioning improperly. The area of the brain that’s responsible for sending signals to muscles to control breathing fail. As a result, you’ll actually make no effort to breathe. Often, those with this form of apnea have trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep and will often wake up with shortness of breath.
Complex sleep apnea is another form of apnea, although it is much rarer. This form is actually a combination of the two previously mentioned types, but can be treated just the same.
What are the Risk Factors for Apnea?
Obstructive apnea can be caused from a number of factors, such as excessive weight, narrowed airway, nasal congestion, and neck circumference. In addition, males, those who have a family history of the condition, and age all play a role in the development. Certain lifestyle habits, such as smoking, alcohol use, and sedatives can lead to the condition.
One the other hand, central apnea is usually caused from an underlying condition, such as heart disorders and stokes. However, age and the use of narcotic medications can cause the condition as well.
Untreated apnea can lead to decreased quality of life, fatigue, high blood pressure, heart problems, and even Type 2 diabetes. Overtime, a metabolic syndrome, liver problems, and sleep deprivation can occur. Thankfully, with the proper diagnosis, you can treat apnea. Piney Point Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery offers treatment for apnea using a CPAP machine to keep the airways open. We also offer Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) and laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP) procedures to remove certain obstructions.
If you’re suffering from apnea, call us today at (832) 924-8142 to sleep soundly with apnea treatment.