Causes of Sleep Apnea

The snoring

There are two types of sleep apnea: obstructive and central. Obstructive sleep apnea is more common, and involves apneic events in which normal breathing is interrupted. Central sleep apnea involves apneic events during which no breathing is detected, sometimes for as long as 20 seconds.

Our expert in sleep apnea in Van Nuys lists the following as common causes of sleep apnea:

Causes of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Risk factors include being male, being middle-aged, being African-American, and having a large neck size. But these do not exactly cause sleep apnea. Directly, the breathing difficulty develops when the muscles controlling the airway relax too much. This relaxation, combined with excess fatty tissue—which is where the overweight part comes in—can produce apneic events.

Causes of Central Sleep Apnea

While rarer, central sleep apnea can be greater cause for alarm because of its neuropathological roots. Some data links it to disorders of the brainstem. In central sleep apnea, the asleep subject will stop breathing entirely simply because the brain isn’t telling them to. Sometimes, an underlying medical condition is to blame. The patient may exhibit affinity for Cheyne-Stokes breathing, which is a known associate of heart failure. More episodically, central sleep apnea may occur after a drastic change in altitude, or drug use.

A small group of patients have an apneic case that combines both obstructive and central sleep apneas. This is known as mixed or complex sleep apnea.

Contact our Van Nuys dentist for more information.

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