What Causes Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder affecting 9% American adults. However, many cases are believed to be undiagnosed, so the number is likely to be much higher.
Sleep apnea is a condition that interrupts your breathing while you are sleeping. These pauses in breathing may last up to 10 to 20 seconds and can occur up to 100 times in a single hour. When the amount of oxygen in your body is reduced, your brain jolts you awake for a fraction of second so you can resume breathing. Even though these interruptions are so small, they can disrupt your natural sleep cycle and prevent you from going into a deep and restful sleep.
Because of this, you may suffer from various emotional and health problems like persistent headaches, fatigues, irritability, lack of concentration, and sleepiness in the daytime. However, the implications of sleep apnea are far-reaching and it can also have deadly consequences for your overall health.
If you or your partner have sleep apnea, we strongly recommend you talk to our doctors at Brush & Floss Dental Center without delay.
Causes of Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea and is caused by the blockage of your airways while sleeping. This happens when the soft tissues of the back of your throat collapse and cut off the air supply to your lungs. This causes loud snoring and cessation in breathing.
There are several reasons why this happens:
|Old Age: Although sleep apnea is more common in older people, it can occur at any age. According to research, obstructive sleep apnea is most common in people in their 50s and 60s.
Gender: Research has shown that men are twice or thrice as likely to develop sleep apnea as women. However, there are certain conditions, like PCOS, that can increase the risk of sleep apnea in women as well.
|Obesity: People who are overweight are more at risk of sleep apnea. The risk mounts in people who are obese.
|Anatomy: Some anatomical differences that can cause sleep apnea include a small or receding jaw, a small upper airway, a tongue positioned high, a long and soft palate, enlarged tonsils or adenoids or deviated nasal septum.
|Smoking: People who smoke are also at a higher risk of developing sleep apnea. In fact, studies show that smokers may be three times as likely to experience sleep apnea than non-smokers.
|Sedatives and Alcohol Consumption: Both these things allow the muscles at the back of your throat to relax and sag down, which can lead to sleep apnea or worsen its symptoms.
|Neck Circumference: If a man has a neck circumference greater than 17 inches and if a woman has a neck circumference greater than 16 inches, they may be at risk of sleep apnea.
|Hormonal Abnormalities: Hormonal conditions like acromegaly and hyperthyroidism are associated with a higher risk of sleep apnea as they can cause swelling of the tissues near the airways or contribute to obesity.
|Nasal Congestion: If you have allergies or other anatomical issues that make it difficult to breathe through your nose, you may develop obstructive sleep apnea.
|Medical Conditions: There are several different types of medical conditions like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, congestive heart failure, chronic lung disease, history of stroke, or Parkinson’s disease that can increase the likelihood of you developing sleep apnea.
Where to Get Treated for Sleep Apnea
If you suspect that you or your partner have sleep apnea, it is important to schedule a consultation. At Brush & Floss Dental Center, we understand the root cause of sleep apnea and can come up with an effective action plan to treat it.
Call us today at (203) 683-5253 to schedule an appointment with us.