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What is sleep apnea and what causes it?

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What is sleep apnea and what causes it?

Sleep apnea is a very common condition which causes the sufferer to experience frequent breathing pauses during sleep. Here are a few of the reasons people experience sleep apnea.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

The most common variety of sleep apnea is called Obstructive Sleep Apnea. This type of sleep apnea is caused by a collapse of the upper airway which makes it difficult to get air into the lungs. Obstructive sleep apnea is more common in men than in women, and is more common in those who are overweight, particularly if they sleep on their backs.

For people of normal weight who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, it's usually caused by some kind of abnormality in the lower face, such as an unusually small chin, an overbite, or a large tongue.

Central Sleep Apnea

Central sleep apnea is much more rare than obstructive sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea happens when the brain does not send normal signals to the chest to breathe properly while asleep. The causes of this type of sleep apnea are typically neurologic disease (a disease of the brain), or possibly severe heart disease. Some medications, particularly strong pain medications like morphine and other narcotics, have also been liked to central sleep apnea.

Mixed Sleep Apnea

Mixed sleep apnea, as you might guess, is a combination of both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. It usually begins as central sleep apnea, and then develops into OSA over time.

If you suspect you might be suffering from any type of sleep apnea, contact our dentists at Willowbrook Dental Clinic to book an assessment today.

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