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Causes and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Last week, we introduced one of the most common sleep disorders that is affecting millions of us, whether we realize it or not. Sleep apnea is one of the top reasons why we aren’t getting the quality of sleep that we need and deserve. Sleep apnea is a condition caused when your breathing is interrupted while you are asleep. This can happen because of an obstruction to your airway, due to a respiratory center and brain communication failure, or both. There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, and complex sleep apnea. If you missed last week’s introduction to this disorder, we advise you to take a quick look at it before moving on through this short series with us.

What are the most common symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea?

  • Loud, disruptive, and frequent snoring
  • Frequent breaks in breathing, which is then followed by a choking or gasping action.
  • Headaches, especially in the morning. This is caused from the loss of oxygen in your bloodstream that is a result of irregular nighttime breathing.
  • Dry mouth
  • Sore or scratchy throat in the morning
  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating throughout the day
  • Decrease in productivity
  • Chronic fatigue

What are the most common causes of obstructive sleep apnea?

  • Excessive weight is directly linked to this condition. Those who are overweight or obese have a much higher chance of suffering from sleep apnea than those who maintain a healthy weight.
  • As you get older (40+), you are at a higher risk for developing sleep apnea. As you age, you naturally begin to lose muscle tone. This also applies to your throat muscles, which, if weakened can cave in during your sleep cycle and cause an obstruction to your airway.
  • Men are more likely to suffer from sleep apnea than women.
  • The size of your neck can put you at a greater risk. Men with a neck size of 17 inches or greater and women with a neck size of 16 inches or greater are at a higher risk.
  • Family history and genetic predisposition, unfortunately, can be the cause of OSA.
  • Alcohol and smoking both increase your chances of OSA.
  • Nasal problems such as a deviated septum or allergies can cause OSA.

What are the most common symptoms of central sleep apnea?

  • Frequent cessation or interruption of breathing during sleep
  • Short and shallow breathing
  • Poor quality of sleep
  • Excessive sleepiness throughout the day
  • Lack of energy
  • Mood changes
  • Regular headaches in the morning
  • Snoring

What are the most common causes of central sleep apnea?

  • Heart failure
  • Obesity
  • Stroke
  • Brain infection
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Some medications, like heavy painkillers

As we discusses earlier, complex sleep apnea is when you suffer from both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. It is believed that one can actually develop central sleep apnea from having obstructive sleep apnea. If you are suffering from any combination of the above symptoms, it might be a good idea to bring that up during your next visit with Dr. Steve!

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