Obstructive sleep apnea is a special instance of sleep apnea, a form of sleep disorder characterized by difficulty in breathing while sleeping. When it presents varieties of symptoms then it may be tagged as obstructive sleep apnea syndrome.

Obstructive sleep apnea causes ranges from

Obstructive sleep apnea OSA has been reported to be caused by the repetitive collapsing of the muscles and soft tissues at the back of the throat. This happens mostly when sufferers are at sleep.

Obstructive sleep apnea causes
Obstructive sleep apnea causes

Obstructive sleep apnea is more common in men than women especially men above the age of 40. Men are four times more likely to develop OSA.

The following are risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea syndrome:

  • Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Enlarged tonsils and tongue
  • Menopause
  • Family history of obstructive sleep apnea
  • Lung diseases
  • Sore throat
  • Menopause and pregnancy (women have higher risk of developing OSA during pregnancy)

Obstructive sleep apnea causes sufferer to have sleep disturbances, waking up frequently in the night.

Studies and reports has revealed that those who have OSA wake at least 30 times within 3 hours, this may be worsened by the severity of the causal factors.

Some of the signs and symptoms that accompanies obstructive sleep apnea are:

  • Choking noise
  • Snoring
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Stroke (in advance cases)
  • Hypothyroidism (under reactive thyroid gland)

Causes of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)

Obstructive sleep apnea causes are the following:

1. Obesity and overweight

Obesity and excess weight has strong ties to sleep apnea as this may make breathing difficult during sleep. In adults, excess weight is the strongest risk factor associated with OSA. Men with BMI over 30 are at a higher risk because, for every unit increment in the BMI raises risk of developing sleeping apnea by 14% according to a WebMD’s report.

2. Enlarged tonsils and/or tongue, tonsilitis

This is very common in children. Those who have sore-throat or strep throat may be at a higher risk of developing sleep apnea due to enlargement of the tonsils.

3. Throat cancer and tumors

Outgrowths on the epithelium of the throat may cause blockage to the free flow of air which may cause sufferers to turn blue. The longer the outgrowths remain, the worse sleep apnea becomes.

4. Down’s syndrome

Children with birth defect such as Down’s syndrome are also a higher risk of developing OSA due to increased chances of developing enlarged tonsils.

5. Smoking

Smoking has been linked obstructive sleep apnea due to worsening lung diseases. Bronchitis for instance is an acute inflammation of the lungs which may result in breathing difficulties, it is not treatable but may lead to other complications such as sleep apnea.

6. Use of sedatives and tranquilizers

Drugs that has tranquilizing effect may cause snoring at night which may be accompanied with breathing difficulties but may subside over time.

Untreated obstructive sleep apnea causes death in the long run due to severing of the various organs and tissues which needs abundant supply of oxygen for instance the brain. The brain and heart muscles are often the first ‘victims’ to suffer from impairment to oxygen flow as it consumes more of blood oxygen than any other organ in the body.

OSA may be treated if it is detected on time, severe OSA may result in severe trauma to the brain due to lack of oxygen. Fatigue and frequent sleepiness are some of the signs to look out for, early detection and medical treatment may help to address the underlying causes.  Also, lifestyle changes may help at reducing the risks and symptoms of sleep apnea.

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