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Complications of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person’s breathing stops and starts many times at night. Sleep apnea can be life-threatening and can cause serious complications. There are different types of sleep apnea including obstructive sleep apnea which is the most common type and is caused by the relaxation of the muscles in the throat.

Central sleep apnea is another type that is caused by the failure of the brain to properly control the muscles of breathing. The third type of sleep apnea is complex sleep apnea syndrome which is a combination of obstructive and central sleep apnea and this type is also called treatment-emergent central sleep apnea. Treatment of sleep apnea includes the use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), use of oral appliances by Dr. Kaveh Kanani in Tarzana to open the throat and surgery.

What Causes Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by relaxation of the muscles in your throat which causes narrowing and closing of the throat when you are breathing in. The lack of breathing reduces the amount of oxygen that is supplied to the body, and when the brain senses this problem, it stimulates you to wake up very briefly that you barely know that you are awake. This cycle can be repeated more than 30 times per hour such that you don’t get deep sleep and you may choke or gasp.

Some factors can increase your risk of getting obstructive sleep apnea like obesity where you have excess fat that narrows your throat. You may also have a genetic predisposition for a narrow airway. Enlargement of tonsils and adenoids in children causes the airway to become narrowed. Having a wider neck may cause your airway to be narrow. Nasal congestion also increases the risk of obstructive sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea is more common in older people, and males more than females. Females are however more likely to become overweight than males and this increases their risk of sleep apnea. Substances that cause relaxation of the throat muscles like alcohol, sedatives, and tranquilizers have a higher risk of causing obstructive sleep apnea. Smoking causes inflammation of the airways and can cause obstructive sleep apnea.

Central sleep apnea is caused by the failure of the brain to regulate your breathing such that you stop breathing for a short period and are unable to sleep. The risk of central sleep apnea increases with old age and in people with heart diseases. Males are at a higher risk of central sleep apnea than females. The use of narcotic drugs like methadone which is long-acting also increases the risk of central sleep apnea. Suffering from a stroke also increases the risk of central sleep apnea.

What Are the Complications of Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea causes you to lack enough sleep at night and this causes you to be tired the following day. This fatigue can reduce your performance at work and school. Driving when you are drowsy can cause road traffic accidents. When you have fatigue, you are likely to be moody, depressed, or hot-tempered.

When the oxygen supply is reduced in the body due to sleep apnea, the heart pumps blood at a higher pressure and this puts you at risk of hypertension. Reduction of oxygen supply to the heart can put at risk of a cardiac attack or sudden death. Sleep apnea also puts you at risk of developing type 2 diabetes and liver disease. Sleep apnea can also deprive your partner of enough sleep.

Conclusion

Sleep apnea causes periods of lack of breathing when you are sleeping and this can be caused by relaxation of the muscles in the throat narrowing the airway or by the failure of the brain to regulate breathing. Treatment of sleep apnea includes the use of oral appliances to open the throat or surgery.