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Why Does Sleep Apnea Occur

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Youre Restless During Sleep

Scary sleep phenomena and why it occur

People with apnea often toss and turn and otherwise show signs of restlessnighttime sleep. If you find yourself kicking, thrashing,jerking or waking up under a twisted pile of disheveled sheets, apnea mightbe a possible cause. When youre struggling to breathe at night, yoursleep becomes disrupted.

What Could It Be?

Sleep apnea is hardly the only issue that interferes with sleep. Expertshave described more than 70 different sleep disorders. Other commonculprits include:

  • Restless legs syndrome: RLS causes unpleasant sensations in the legs and an urge to move them for relief.
  • Narcolepsy: This disorder causes people to fall asleep suddenly during the day for periods of a few seconds to a number of minutes. It occurs regardless of how much sleep a person gets at night.
  • Insomnia: Some 60 million Americans regularly have trouble falling or staying asleep, for a variety of reasons.

If you’re having trouble sleeping, you shouldlearn when to talk to your doctor.

What Are The Surgical Treatments For Obstructive Sleep Apnea

There are many surgical options to treat obstructive sleep apnea. The type of surgery that is chosen is dependent on an individual’s specific anatomy and severity of sleep apnea. People often want surgery because it promises a cure with a single treatment. Surgery sounds easier than losing 10 pounds and more convenient than wearing a dental appliance or mask every night. However, surgery is not the “miracle cure” either. Most surgeries are safe, however, every surgery, no matter how small, carries risks. Most surgeries require time off from work to heal and some are quite painful for up to 2-3 weeks. Some of the potential general risks of surgery include:

  • bleeding,
  • anesthesia risks , and
  • other unforeseen surgical complications.

Surgery should be considered only after all the risks, benefits, and alternatives to surgery are understood. Some insurance companies require a 3+-week trial of treatment with CPAP before they will even consider authorizing surgery for sleep apnea. This is not an unreasonable approach. CPAP, if tolerated, controls most sleep apnea, and this may be better than surgical options. It is difficult to have a serious, permanent complication using CPAP as compared to the possibility of such a complication with surgery.

  • nasal airway surgery,
  • bariatric surgery, and
  • combinations of the above.

Many people have several levels of obstruction and, therefore, these surgical techniques frequently are performed together .

Nasal airway surgery

Tongue reduction surgery

Central Sleep Apnea Happens When The Brain Is Involved

Central sleep apnea is less common than obstructive sleep apnea. It can also be trickier to diagnose and treat. Unlike obstructive sleep apnea, which is caused by a mechanical problem that blocks the airway, central sleep apnea occurs because the brain is not sending the proper messages to the muscles that control breathing. Central sleep apnea is caused by a neurological reason, explains Dr. Capasso.

While central and obstructive sleep apneas share many symptoms such as episodes of pauses in breathing, constant awakenings during the night, and extreme sleepiness during the day central sleep apnea often affects people who have underlying illnesses, too, such as a brain infection or other conditions that affect the brainstem. Common diseases associated with central sleep apnea include: severe obesity, Parkinsons disease, stroke, and chronic heart failure. Certain drugs, such as opioids or benzodiazepines, can also play a role in central sleep apnea. In patients who use opioids on a chronic basis, the breathing mechanisms can get numbed, Capasso explains.

RELATED: Obesity and Heart Disease: What’s the Connection?

Your doctor may refer you to a sleep specialist for a diagnosis if he or she suspects central sleep apnea, which may involve an overnight sleep test to rule out obstructive sleep apnea or other sleep disorders. The sleep specialist may also work with your cardiologist or order scans of your head and heart to rule out other contributing illnesses.

Recommended Reading: Garmin Vivoactive Sleep Tracking

Treatment For Cchs/central Sleep Apnea

Because Central Sleep Apnea is often the result of another medical condition, the primary condition is typically treated first, in the hope that it will correct the breathing difficulties. When this is not possible, an Avery Breathing pacemaker may be an alternative to other forms of ventilation.

The Avery Biomedical Diaphragm Pacing System is a helpful option for patients with Central Sleep Apnea. The diaphragm pacing system is implanted surgically and stimulates the phrenic nerve which signals the diaphragm to contract at a normal rate. Because patients with Central Sleep Apnea never know when the apneas will occur, the pacemaker is consistently helpful, removing the risk of a lack of oxygen.

For more information about how the pacemaker can help you breathe normally and to find surgeons near you, call us at or fill out our online request form by clicking on the button below.

Why Does Sleep Apnea Happen

Sleep Apnea Costa Mesa CA

Sleep apnea may seem baffling at first. How much do you really know about the disease? What causes you to stop breathing in your sleep? Is this a natural phenomenon? Are some people more prone than others? How can you prevent it? Having many questions about a potential condition is normal. Many people have unanswered questions about the causes or the physiological attributes of the throat and mouth. Finding out more about the disease can lead to understanding your treatment and prevention.

Read Also: Vivoactive Sleep Mode

Learn About Other Precautions To Help You Stay Safe

Sleep apnea can increase your risks of complications if you are having surgery, and it can affect your ability to drive.

  • Before surgery. If you are having any type of surgery that requires medicine to put you to sleep or for pain management, let your surgeon and doctors know that you have sleep apnea. They might have to take extra steps to make sure that your upper airway stays open during the surgery and when selecting your pain medicines.
  • Driving precautions. Undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea can decrease learning capabilities, slow down decision making, and decrease attention span, which can result in drowsy driving.

How Do Doctors Diagnose And Evaluate Obstructive Sleep Apnea

History and physical examination

Obstructive sleep apnea can be diagnosed and evaluated by subjective and objective methods. An example of a subjective method that measures the effects of obstructive sleep apnea on patients is the Epworth Sleepiness Scale.

The Epworth Sleepiness Scale is a self-report test that establishes the severity of sleepiness. A person rates the likelihood of falling asleep during specific activities. Using the scale from 0 to 3 below, the risk of dozing can be ranked from the chart below.

0 = Unlikely to fall asleep1 = Slight risk of falling asleep2 = Moderate risk of falling asleep3 = High likelihood of falling asleep

Sitting inactive in a public place
As a passenger in a car riding for an hour with no breaks
Lying down to rest in the afternoon
Sitting and talking with someone
Sitting quietly after lunch without alcohol
In a car while stopped for a few minutes in traffic

After ranking each category, the total score is calculated. The range is 0 to 24, with higher scores suggesting greater sleepiness.


Breaking it down further, excessive daytime sleepiness is greater than 10. It is important to note that in patients with insufficient sleep , they can also have daytime somnolence even without obstructive sleep apnea.

  • work performance,
  • falling asleep during meetings, and


Multiple Sleep Latency Test

Maintenance of Wakefulness Test

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Upper Airway Surgery For Sleep Apnea

If you have exhausted other sleep apnea treatment options, surgery to increase the size of your airway may be a possibility.

The surgeon may remove tonsils, adenoids, or excess tissue at the back of the throat or inside the nose, reconstruct the jaw to enlarge the upper airway, or implant plastic rods into the soft palate. Surgery carries risks of complications and infections, and in some rare cases, symptoms can become worse after surgery.

Diagnosing And Treating Sleep Apnea For Better Health

Link Between TMJ, Sleep Apnea and Bruxism

Its important to treat sleep apnea, because it can have long-term consequences for your health. While there have been some high-profile deaths linked to sleep apneasuch as with;Judge Antonin Scalia;Jun says that the true risk is from damage done over time.

Obstructive sleep apnea can range from mild to severe, based on a measurement system called the apnea-hypopnea index . The AHI measures the number of breathing pauses that you experience per hour that you sleep.

Obstructive sleep apnea is classified by severity:

  • Severe obstructive sleep apnea;means that your AHI is greater than 30
  • Moderate obstructive sleep apnea;means that your AHI is between 15 and 30
  • Mild obstructive sleep apnea;means that your AHI is between 5 and 15

Johns Hopkins Home Care

We provide high quality, individualized care for patients of all ages where you feel most comfortable your home or community. Our services and equipment are designed to help you regain and retain a level of independence.

Whether or not you need treatment for sleep apnea depends on its severity, whether or not you have symptoms such as sleepiness and other health conditions. For example, if you have risk factors for heart disease, your doctor might opt to treat you even for mild sleep apnea. On the other hand, if you have a severe case of sleep apnea, your doctor might insist on treatment even if youre not sleepy.

Not very relaxing, right? Luckily, its treatable.

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How Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea Treated

When obstructive sleep apnea is mild, doctors might check a child’s sleep for a while to see if symptoms improve before deciding on treatment.

When big tonsils cause sleep apnea, doctors will refer families to an ear, nose, and throat doctor . The ENT might recommend:

  • removing the tonsils
  • removing large adenoids

These surgeries often are effective treatments for obstructive sleep apnea.

For other causes, a doctor may recommend continuous positive airway pressure therapy. In CPAP therapy, a person wears a mask during sleep. The mask may cover the nose only or the nose and mouth. It’s connected to a machine that pumps air to open the airways.

When excess weight causes obstructive sleep apnea, it’s important to work with a doctor on diet changes, exercise, and other safe weight-loss methods.

How Common Is Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is estimated to affect between 2-9% of adults in the United States, but many cases are believed to go undiagnosed, which fits with studies that have found considerably higher rates of OSA. Precise prevalence is hard to determine because studies have used different criteria for diagnosing the condition. A consistent finding, though, is that OSA affects men more than women. It can occur in people of any age but is more common in older adults.

Central sleep apnea has been found to affect around .9% of adults over the age of 40. It is found much more frequently in men than in women.

As this data demonstrates, OSA is much more common than CSA. For this reason, when people talk about sleep apnea, they are generally referring to OSA.

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Sleep Apnea Of Children Final Words

Even in those rare cases when it is impossible to completely eliminate the cause of infant sleep apnea, the child can and should be helped.

Understanding the nature of the disease and choosing the right way to eliminate the associated breathing disorders allows:

  • Avoid the risk of sudden death;
  • To provide the most comfortable conditions for the life and development of the baby.
  • Read more about all kinds of CPAP Machines HERE

    What Causes Sleep Apnea

    Obstructive Sleep Apnea: What it is, Why it ...

    Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the rear of the throat collapses during sleep. Central sleep apnea is usually observed in patients with central nervous system dysfunction, such as following a stroke or in patients with neuromuscular diseases like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis . It is also common in patients with heart failure and other forms of heart, kidney or lung disease.

    Also Check: Can Nasal Strips Help Sleep Apnea

    What Is Sleep Apnea

    Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that happens when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times during the night.

    If its not treated, sleep apnea can cause a number of health problems, including hypertension , stroke, cardiomyopathy , heart failure, diabetes and heart attacks. Untreated sleep apnea can also be responsible for job impairment, work-related accidents and motor vehicle crashes, as well as underachievement in school in children and adolescents.

    There are two types of sleep apnea, obstructive and central:

    • Obstructive sleep apnea is the more common of the two. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs as repetitive episodes of complete or partial upper airway blockage during sleep. During an apneic episode, the diaphragm and chest muscles work harder as the pressure increases to open the airway. Breathing usually resumes with a loud gasp or body jerk. These episodes can interfere with sound sleep, reduce the flow of oxygen to vital organs, and cause heart rhythm irregularities.
    • In central sleep apnea, the airway is not blocked but the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe due to instability in the respiratory control center. Central apnea is related to the function of the central nervous system.

    Considering The Causes Of Sleep Apnea

    Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when any part of the airway from the tip of the nose to the lungs collapses during sleep and disrupts breathing. As such, it is often due to a persons underlying anatomy. A deviated nasal septum or enlarged turbinates in the nose may disrupt airflow. A floppy soft palate, big tonsils or adenoids, or a large tongue may block the passage at the throat.

    The lining of the airway itself may prove to be an obstruction. Chronic snoring leads to vibration of the airway and damage. This may contribute to swelling along the passage that narrows it even further. In time, nerve receptors may become less responsive, and the muscles may not be able to keep sufficient tone to support the airway. Weight gain, especially when it leads to a large neck, may also worsen the situation.

    Sleeping on your back may allow the tongue to fall back into the airway, further contributing to obstruction and sleep apnea. The use of alcohol, especially in the few hours prior to sleep, may make the airway muscles more collapsible as well. All of these various contributions must be taken into account when considering whether sleep apnea can go away.

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    The Avery Diaphragm Pacing System System

    The Avery Diaphragm Pacing System System is the only diaphragm-pacing device with full pre-market approval from the USFDA and CE marking privileges under the European Active Implantable Medical Device Directive for adult and pediatric use. In addition, its system of using small implanted radiofrequency receivers rather than electrode wires that pass directly through the skin may decrease a patients risk of infection and ongoing wound care management issues.

    Avery has been commercially distributing diaphragm pacing systems since the early 1970s. Since then, more than 2,000 patients have been implanted in over 40 countries establishing an unsurpassed record of safety and reliability.

    Know Your Sleep Apnea Risk Level

    Breathing Disorders

    Sleep apnea is a serious condition that affects more than 30 million Americans who suffer from lack of restorative sleep.

    The majority are undiagnosed and unaware of their condition.

    Typical symptoms include heavy snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness or fatigue, difficulty with concentration or memory, among many others.

    Untreated, sleep apnea can lead to serious health consequences.

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    Is All Insomnia The Same

    Not all insomnia is the same; people can experience the condition in distinct ways. Short-term insomnia happens only over a brief period while chronic insomnia lasts for three months or more. For some people, the primary problem is falling asleep while others struggle with staying asleep .

    How a person is affected by insomnia can vary significantly based on its cause, severity, and how it is influenced by underlying health conditions.

    Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea

    Sleep apnea causes episodes of decreased oxygen supply to the brain and other parts of the body. Sleep quality is poor, which causes daytime drowsiness and lack of clarity in the morning. People with sleep apnea may also experience the following symptoms:

    • headaches that are difficult to treat
    • feeling disgruntled
    • poor job and school performance
    • loss of interest in sex
    • leg swelling

    Daytime drowsiness puts people with sleep apnea at risk for motor vehicle crashes and industrial accidents. Treatment can help to completely relieve daytime drowsiness caused by sleep apnea.

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    A Why Sleep Upright With Sleep Apnea

    Youre probably not the first to wonder about sleeping upright with sleep apnea.

    Theyre currently 18 million sleep apnea sufferers in the US alone, all too many waking up exhausted day after day.

    Its a miserable experience, so its no surprise people are desperate to figure out everything they can do to sleep better.

    Personally, Ive only tried sleeping upright in a recliner a few times without much success.; Luckily, CPAP seems to be working out for me.

    I know this is not the case for everyone.; Even with a variety of CPAP setups, many people still find CPAP uncomfortable and give up within the first year.

    Out of curiosity, I did a quick survey of five sleep apnea sufferers I know.; Only one had ever tried sleeping upright and told me it didnt help.

    But this is all anecdotal, so lets take a more serious look at whether this simple trick can really help the millions of sleep apnea sufferers.

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