Who gets sleep apnea

What causes sleep apnea?

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The content of this page has been checked by Donald Kressner and the information it contains has been verified. As the owner of FlexPoint GmbH, Donald Kressner is a specialist in sleep-related issues - in particular anti-snoring solutions and help with obstructive sleep apnea.

When looking at the causes of sleep apnea, one must first differentiate between the forms described above, as the two types usually have very different causes. This is mainly because the center of the disorder is in different parts of the body.

Risk factors in obstructive sleep apnea syndrome

There are many different factors that can contribute to obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. First and foremost is obesity. As mentioned earlier, around 80% of people with sleep apnea are overweight. Being overweight puts a strain on the circulatory system and causes fat to be stored in all regions of the body. This obesity also takes place in the throat and leads to a narrowing there.

Add to that the age. The older you are, the more likely you are to get sleep apnea. Men between the ages of 30 and 60 and postmenopausal women are particularly at risk. Overall, however, more men than women are affected by the disease.

In addition, the use of sedatives or sleeping pills can lead to sleep apnea. This can be explained by the fact that the tablets relax the muscles in the roof of the mouth, so that they can relax more quickly and close the airways. Alcohol or drugs can also have this effect.

An extremely retracted lower jaw, a crooked nasal septum, an enlarged tongue or oversized tonsils can also be the cause.

Other risk factors are nasal polyps, hypothyroidism, smoking, pregnancy or existing diseases such as acromegaly or rheumatism. In addition, irregular sleeping times, which are often associated with shift work, have a negative effect on the development of sleep apnea.

Risk factors in central sleep apnea

Central sleep apnea, on the other hand, has completely different causes than the obstructive form. Since this type is based on a malfunction in the brain, its origin is in the central nervous system and must therefore be viewed neurologically.

The malfunction in the brain means that the muscles that are needed for breathing are no longer adequately controlled. The brain “forgets”, so to speak, to send the command to the muscles to control the muscles.

Most of the time, this type of disease is genetic, so it is passed on. However, it can also be caused by a tick bite and the resulting borreliosis. A stroke can also be the origin. It is therefore crucial to correctly interpret the symptoms of sleep apnea in order to clarify the cause.