Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while sleeping. These pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes and can occur several times an hour. The most common cause of sleep apnea is obstructed airways, which can be caused by obesity, a thick neck, or physical abnormalities in the airway. The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat fail to keep the airway open, despite the effort to breathe. Central sleep apnea (CSA) is another form of sleep apnea, which is caused by a failure of the brain to transmit the proper signals to the muscles that control breathing.
Symptoms and Causes
Other causes include smoking, alcohol consumption, and certain medications.
Symptoms of sleep apnea include
- loud snoring,
- pauses in breathing,
- daytime fatigue,
- frequent awakenings at night.
The most common cause of sleep apnea is an obstruction in the airway. This can be caused by physical abnormalities in the airway, such as a large tongue, large tonsils, or a small jaw. Obesity can also cause sleep apnea by increasing the amount of fat in the airway. Some people have sleep apnea as a result of neurological problems that affect the brain’s ability to control breathing. Some people are more susceptible to sleep apnea due to genetic factors, such as a family history of the disorder. Certain lifestyle factors, such as smoking and alcohol consumption, can increase the risk of sleep apnea.
If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke and other serious health problems. It is usually diagnosed with a sleep study, during which a person’s breathing and other vital signs are monitored while they sleep. Treatment options include lifestyle changes, such as weight loss and avoiding alcohol and smoking, as well as the use of devices such as CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine, or surgery. Visit Arizona Sleep Center for sleep apnea treatment in Arizona.