Sleep apnea can generally be defined as having one or more pauses in breathing, or extremely shallow breath in your sleep. There are two specific types of sleep apnea that further define how and why the “pauses” occur.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
If you have obstructive sleep apnea, it has to do with the muscles in your throat — the tonsils, uvula, soft palate, tongue and the walls of your throat. Collectively, these muscles completely relax and close your airway which causes a longer pause in breath before briefly waking up to reopen the pathway. Although you may not remember waking up, this constant cycle leads to lack of deep sleep and feelings of fatigue throughout the day.
Causes of Obstructive Sleep Apnea
There are multiple risk factors associated with the likelihood of suffering from obstructive sleep apnea.
Obesity: Those who are excessively overweight may have fatty deposits in their throat which can block the airway, or weigh heavy on the muscles causing them to collapse.
Smoking: The amount of fluid retention in the throat and lungs can inflame the airway, making it tighter and more narrow.
Genetics: It is more common in those with family members who suffer from sleep apnea as well. Also, men are two times more likely to develop sleep apnea than women, especially over the age of 65.
Central Sleep Apnea
Central sleep apnea is not caused by muscle relaxation, but rather it is due to “brain farts” — meaning the brain fails to remind your breathing muscles to perform adequately. It is a less common form, but has many of the same characteristics of obstructive sleep apnea, including lack of deep sleep due to “slightly” waking up multiple times throughout the night.
Causes of Central Sleep Apnea
Like OSA, age is a factor when considering why this is happening to you. But other, more common, causes to consider is illness that affects brain function. This is represented in people who experienced heart failure or stroke, each slowing down the central nervous system and reducing brain function.
Call Your Dentist
If you wake up by shortness of breath or experience extreme daily fatigue and exhaustion, you may suffer from sleep apnea. Treatments for sleep apnea are available at Greenspoint Dental in the Houston, TX area. Contact Greenspoint Dental to learn more about our mouthpieces and laser dentistry options that can reduce your sleep apnea.