Sleep apnea is a relatively common sleep disorder, estimated to affect anywhere between two to nine percent of American adults. People with sleep apnea have abnormal breathing patterns while they sleep; they may snore loudly, gasp for air at night, and have extended pauses between breaths that can last up to a minute. There are different types of sleep apnea that have a variety of causes.
Types of Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, is the most common form of the disorder. OSA occurs when your throat muscles relax, obscuring your airway. Another form of the disorder is central sleep apnea, or CSA. CSA occurs as a result of your brain failing to send the correct signals to the muscles that control your breathing. Finally, the third type of sleep apnea is known as complex or mixed sleep apnea, which is when someone has both OSA and CSA. All three forms of sleep apnea cause symptoms such as loud snoring, breathing that stops while you sleep, waking up gasping for air or feeling like you are choking, dry mouth, and extreme tiredness during the day.
Causes of Sleep Apnea
Since CSA involves a malfunction with the brain, it is often caused by a serious medical condition like a stroke or brain tumor. OSA, on the other hand, can be caused by several different factors. The unique anatomy of your mouth, throat, tonsils, and neck, which would be determined by genetics, can make you more or less at risk for an obstructed airway. If you have persistent nasal congestion or other sinus issues, or certain hormone issues such as hypothyroidism, you might also be more likely to experience OSA. Other risk factors for OSA include obesity, tobacco use, and heavy consumption of alcohol or other sedatives.
Sleep apnea can be treated so it does not cause you more serious health problems. Call our office today to learn more about what might be causing your sleep apnea.
Century Dental Dr. Jefferson Call, DMD & Dr. Dix Densley, DDS