Sleep Apnea Causes & Effects
Causes of Sleep Apnea
Given that Sleep Apnea affects millions of people, it will come as no surprise that the most common factor to trigger OSA is people being overweight, obese or just plain fat.
Lifestyle issues including smoking, excessive drinking of alcohol and recreational drug use are also major contributing factors.
All of the above act to compress or relax the tissues in the airways to such a point that they become blocked and you stop breathing, sometimes for minutes at a time. Then your brain kicks in, awakens, opens up the airways “manually” and then returns to sleep.
There are other factors such as allergies that can restrict airways and physical deviations such as an enlarged tongue, tonsils or septum. You may have been born with a thicker neck or narrow airways. If you are male you are two times more likely to have Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
In the case of Central Sleep Apnea, the more likely causes are oriented towards other medical conditions such as diseases of the nervous system, brain disorders or motor neuron diseases, many of which are hereditary, which by inference makes CSA somewhat hereditary. In addition, people with heart disorders or stroke victims have a higher likelihood to experience CSA.
In both types, being older increases the likelihood and severity of Sleep Apnea onset.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms & Effects
The most obvious sign of the potential onset of Sleep Apnea is loud and in particular, sudden snoring. Not everyone who snores has it, but nearly everyone that has it snores.
Sleep Apnea is often closely aligned with many of the more well-known Sleep Disorders and some contemporary research is indicating a much closer linear relationship then has been suggested in the past. Therefore there is a “chicken and egg” situation when describing symptoms and effects.
The other more noticeable signs of Sleep Apnea and effects are:
Gasping or choking sounds whilst asleep
Silence when asleep
Being extraordinarily sleepy during the day
Abrupt awakening during the night
Sleep Apnea headache
Frequent sore or dry throat
Excessive weight gain
Sleep Apnea symptoms in men and women are almost identical and yet 3 times as many men are diagnosed than women. Women with Sleep Apnea have more subtle breathing disturbances and are more likely to have REM-related Apneas and a slightly higher prevalence of restless legs, hypersomnia or insomnia. Hormonal variations are somewhat to blame for the distinctions in sleep patterns, while anatomical differences between men and women also play a role.
Men most often report symptoms such as snoring, waking up gasping for air or snorting, whilst women are more likely to refer to fatigue, anxiety, and depression as likely symptoms.