What are the Causes of Sleep Apnea?

sleep apnea

OSA- or Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a breathing related disorder where the breath can stop even for 10 seconds or more, several times during the night. This breathing disorder leads to a reduction of oxygen within the bloodstream, and patients typically wake up suddenly during the night gasping for air. Two of the most common underlying causes of sleep apnea are excessive weight or obesity. The soft tissue of the throat or mouth represents the main problem with this type of obstruction in breathing.

When sleeping, your tongue and throat muscles become more relaxed. However, the excess soft tissue can cause blockages in the airways. However, there are many other factors that can influence the apparition of sleep apnea. Even children can develop sleep apnea, and this disorder can be induced by factors such as large overbite, or even enlarged tonsils. The development of tumors within the airways or certain birth defects can also lead to obstructive sleep apnea (health conditions such as Down Syndrome or Pierre-Robin syndrome with a downward placement of the tongue and small lower jaw).

When left untreated, Obstructive Sleep Apnea can sooner or later lead to very serious health problems. These might include cardiovascular accidents or cardiovascular disease. Very loud snoring and repeated awakenings during the night might be clear signs of sleep apnea. In such cases, it is imperative that you get a proper diagnosis and follow the required treatment.

OSA Risk Factors

Besides obesity, there are also many other factors that can cause sleep apnea. For example, patients with a hereditary narrow throat can also develop sleep apnea. Hypothyroidism or certain allergies can also lead to the development of sleep apnea. Alcohol and tobacco use also play a major role in the development of sleep apnea complications in adults.

According to statistics in the field, more 50% of OSA patients are struggling with weight issues or they are obese. In fact, the main risk factor for sleep apnea in adults is represented by excessive weight issues. When your body mass index increases with one single unit, your chances of developing Obstructive Sleep Apnea also increase by 15%.

Extreme obesity is a very dangerous risk factor for developing not only Sleep Apnea but also many other disorders (of the heart and other organs). The body fat in extremely obese patients dangerously interferes with the good functioning of the respiratory system. This excess fat can actually compress the lungs and this, in turn, will lead to a breathing pattern that is shallow, and a breathing pattern that is not sufficient and not biologically correct. These breathing problems appear not only during the day but also during the night and quite often patients need to use a CPAP to get oxygen into their lungs.

Reduce your risk of Sleep apnea with these steps:

There are a few things you can do to considerably reduce your risk of developing sleep apnea. Don’t let an onset sleep apnea turn into Obstructive Sleep Apnea and later into more dangerous health conditions. Start making the change today and reduce these risks as much as you can:

  • Give up smoking
  • Reduce alcohol intake
  • Lose weight
  • Become more of a “side” sleeper
  • Lifestyle changes: a healthy diet & regular physical workout

You can normalize your breathing levels by making these lifestyle changes. They might sound a little drastic, but step-by-step they will help in reducing considerably your risk for developing such a dangerous condition. Even if you already struggle with sleep apnea, these lifestyle changes can help you reduce so many side effects and start living a much healthier life.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea & Complications


Several studies in the medical field show that obstructive sleep apnea is associated with several health conditions. These may include:

  • Hypertension- High Blood Pressure issues
  • Increased heart attack/stroke risk
  • Diabetes onset
  • Nocturnal angina- chest pain/ discomfort that occurs during the night
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder
  • Abnormal heart rhythm (palpitations)
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness- patients with sleep apnea cannot get a restful night of sleep, given they wake up several times per night because of obstructions in the airways
  • Depression onset- because patients cannot get a restful night of sleep, they are tired during the day and on a repetitive basis this can lead to issues of anxiety and even depression

Patients already diagnosed with sleep apnea usually get CPAP therapy and restore their wellbeing during the day and get their good rest during the night. If you or someone dear to you suffer from the signs or symptoms of OSA, you should immediately ask for medical help. CPAP or BiPAP therapy can truly make the difference in your life. Once you become compliant with therapy, you will enjoy restful nights of sleep, get enough oxygen into your lungs and wake up refreshed and energized each morning.