What are the Causes of Sleep Apnea?
The most common form of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea, which is caused by a blockage of the breathing passage or a collapsed airway. With a blocked airway, it is difficult to breathe—keeping air from traveling freely.
When you’re awake, throat muscles help keep your airway stiff and open so air can flow into your lungs. When you sleep, these muscles relax, which narrows your throat. Normally, this narrowing of your throat doesn’t prevent air from flowing into and out of your lungs. However, if you have sleep apnea, your airway can become partially or fully blocked because of the following reasons:
- Your throat muscles and tongue relax more than normal.
- Your tongue and tonsils are large compared to the opening into your windpipe.
- You’re overweight.
- The shape of your head and neck may cause a smaller airway size in the mouth and throat area.
- The aging process limits your brain signals’ ability to keep your throat muscles stiff during sleep.
As a result, not enough air flows into your lungs if your airway is partially or fully blocked during sleep. In the end, you or your loved one will experience loud snoring and a drop in your blood oxygen level.