Sleep apnea cases have been on the rise over the past few years, with an added boost since the pandemic caused shutdowns in 2020. In order to help our patients get the best night’s sleep, we need to stay on top of the latest finding by medical professionals.
Here are the underlying causes of obstructive sleep apnea:
Excess weight and obesity.
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the leading cause of sleep apnea is obesity. The ongoing rise in obesity is most likely causing most of the new cases of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Since the pandemic started, obesity has continued to grow across the US. (CDC.gov)
“There is a linear correlation between obesity and OSA. In obese people, fat deposits in the upper respiratory tract narrow the airway; there is a decrease in muscle activity in this region, leading to hypoxic and apneic episodes, ultimately resulting in sleep apnea.” (NIH.gov)
Occurring naturally or as a result of excess weight, having a thicker neck can cause airways to be narrower. This would lead to more difficulty breathing during sleep.
Smaller airways (without having a thicker neck) can also be a result of genetics, or enlarged tonsils or adenoids. This is more common in children.
Age & Gender
Obstructive Sleep Apnea affects more men than women and is more likely to be an issue for older people (usually due to muscles weakening with age).
Alcohol, sedatives, and other drugs can cause the muscles controlling your airways to relax and cause OSA.
Smoking can affect the airways, causing swelling, inflammation, and fluid retention. This will negatively affect your breathing.
Colds and allergies can also cause fluid buildup or inflammation of your airways. Learn more about allergies and OSA here: https://advancedhomecareonline.com/seasonal-allergies-and-osa/
Certain medical conditions affect the muscles in your airways or your lungs, such as Parkinson’s disease, lung disease, stroke, or heart conditions can lead to OSA.
Knowing Why You Have OSA Can Help You Treat It
Knowing the cause of your OSA can determine the best treatment for your situation. You might need a short-term solution or something that will work for you for the longer term. If you have OSA because of obesity, you can track your sleep progress when losing weight. This can be very motivating and could help you to lose more weight.
If you have recently been diagnosed with sleep apnea, our sleep specialists can help you figure out the best course of action for your individual situation.
Get in touch today!