What Causes Sleep Apnea?
“What causes sleep apnea?” You might be asking yourself this question if you have recently been diagnosed with this potentially serious sleep disorder. The muscles of your throat keep your airways open when you are awake, and this allows you to breathe easily. When you fall asleep, all your muscles relax, including these throat muscles, and your airways will narrow. Narrower airways are normal during sleep, but for those with sleep apnea, they can actually narrow so much that they block the airflow. If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, our Los Angeles sleep apnea center can help.
What causes sleep apnea? Sleep apnea can interrupt your breathing several times a minute or hundreds of times a night. This can occur for several reasons. Your throat muscles may simply relax more than usual, or you may have larger amounts of soft tissue compared to the size of your airways. In some cases, the bony structures of the head and neck may result in smaller airways and more difficulty breathing at night. The airway is also more likely to narrow or collapse with age. Overweight people may be more susceptible to sleep apnea due to the excess tissue and reduced muscle tone. Once the airway becomes blocked, snoring begins, and there may be a pause in breathing. As your blood oxygen levels decrease, your brain rouses you from sleep so that you can start breathing again.
Unfortunately, the reduced blood oxygen level and lack of sleep can combine to increase your risk of arrhythmia, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke and heart failure. Untreated sleep apnea can also increase your risk of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Contact our expert in sleep apnea in Los Angeles to find out more about what causes sleep apnea and what you can do to control it.
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