What are the common causes of Sleep Apnea?

April 23, 2017 |  by  |  Sleep Apnea Causes and Effects

Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder that affects millions of people. There are varying degrees of sleep apnea and depending on the severity of the condition will also determine the course of action that is taken for treatment. Generally speaking, sleep apnea is when someone’s breathing stop during their sleep. This can happen a few times night or a few hundred times in one evening. The duration of the period where one stops breathing is generally only a few seconds long. In more severe forms of sleep apnea the duration can last as long as a few minutes.

A person who has sleep apnea will often wake up gasping for air. This will not allow the person to get the amount of sleep that they need in order to feel rested. Most people who have this sleeping disorder often report feelings of extreme fatigue. There are many causes of sleep apnea and we will discuss some of the most common sleep apnea causes.

What causes sleep apnea?

Anyone can have sleep apnea even children. So it is really important to not only learn the causes of sleep apnea but to also familiarize yourself with common risk factors. Medical researchers have been able to identify some of the most common causes of sleep apnea. These often include, being over the age of 65, a history of smoking, being of the male gender, being overweight/obese, and certain physical attributes. People who have a deviated septum, receding chin, or a thick neck are more prone to develop sleep apnea. While some of the causes of sleep apnea can be controlled certain hereditary traits cannot. One sleep apnea cause that cannot be controlled deals with ethnicity. Medical experts have found that people who are African American, Hispanic or of the Pacific Islander nationality are also more prone to have sleep apnea.

Understanding Central Sleep Apnea

One form of sleep apnea which is known as central sleep apnea and is a much more serious form of sleep apnea. In central sleep apnea the entire central nervous system instead of the breathing patterns. In central sleep apnea the brain fails to signals the muscles that are responsible for breathing. This form of sleep apnea often affects males over the age of 65 and is much more serious than other forms of sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea is often associated with such serious medical conditions such as heart disease, stroke, neurological disease, or spinal or brainstem injury.

There are many different central sleep apnea causes. Due to the serious and potentially fatal consequences of central sleep apnea understanding all the causes can give you a better understanding of what central sleep apnea is. Central sleep apnea causes will always be a result of certain conditions that affect the ability of the brainstem. Your brainstem links to your brain and is responsible for many vital functions such as cardiac and respiratory functions. Central sleep apnea causes will also vary depending on what type of central sleep apnea you may have. Below is a list of some of the forms of central sleep apnea as well as the central sleep apnea causes of each type.

  • One form is known as idiopathic central sleep apnea- This cause is actually unknown. This form of sleep apnea is characterized by repeated pauses in both breathing and airflow to the lungs and other vital organs.
  • Cheyne-Stokes- This cause of sleep apnea is characterized by periodic, rhythmic and a gradual increase followed but a decrease in all respiratory efforts. The most common cause of sleep apnea in this form is due to congestive heart failure.
  • Drug induced central sleep apnea- Certain medications when not used properly can be a cause of sleep apnea. These medications include opioids, morphine, codeine and others. When these medications are taken there is the possibility of central sleep apnea developing.

There are many other forms of central sleep apnea however the one’s listed above are the most common. By understanding what the causes of sleep apnea are there is a chance that you can prevent you yourself from having to deal with this disorder. While that is not always the case and certain genetic factors do play a role in sleep apnea there is no doubt that knowledge is power. If you have any further questions about the causes of sleep apnea speak with your medical care provider.


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