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What are Sleep Apnea Causes?

Sleep apnea is, unfortunately, a fairly common breathing disorder. A person’s breathing pauses while sleeping, leading to a number of medical complications. If you hope to prevent or treat this condition, then you need to know what can cause sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea Causes

Excess Weight and Obesity

The most common form of this condition is obstructive sleep apnea. The mouth or throat becomes obstructed which leads to impaired breathing. Extra weight around the neck can make the muscles located there more prone to collapsing and obstructing the air passageways. Losing weight (if you are overweight) or maintaining a healthy weight is a good way to prevent or alleviate this form of sleep apnea.

Consumption of Alcohol and Drugs

Alcohol, certain illicit drugs, and some prescription medications can cause the muscles in the mouth and throat to relax so much that they collapse during sleep. To avoid this happening, consume alcohol or medications at least four hours prior to bedtime.

Sleep Position

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The soft tissues in the mouth and throat are floppy and loose. If you sleep on your back, gravity can cause them to slip to the back of the throat and block the airways. Sleeping on your side or propping yourself up at least 4 inches can help you avoid this problem.

Poor Muscle Tone

Poor muscle tone in the throat makes it more prone to collapsing during sleep. This affect is compounded if you sleep on your back, consume muscle-relaxing substances, or are overweight. There are several throat exercises you can perform to strengthen the muscles. Singing and playing an instrument that exercises the mouth and throat can also improve muscle tone in that area.

Brain Damage

Central sleep apnea is caused by the brain’s inability to send the signal to breath at the right time. Sustaining an injury to the head can lead to the onset of this condition. Always protect your head when engaging in sports or activities that put you at risk for a head injury. Taking care of your overall health can also prevent diseases that cause brain damage such as strokes.

Tissue Abnormalities

Abnormalities in the mouth and throat can cause sleep apnea. A misaligned jaw, large tonsils, swollen tongue, or a narrow windpipe can lead to the onset of sleep apnea. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about physical abnormalities. Surgery may help in some cases, but this option comes with a certain amount of risk.

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