What Causes Sudden Sleep Apnea and How Can It Be Treated?

Obstructive sleep apnea is a dangerous condition that occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat relax too much, preventing normal breathing. This can be caused by drinking alcohol, which increases the relaxation of the muscles and tissues of the mouth and throat. When this happens, the brain wakes you briefly from sleep so you can reopen your respiratory tract. As a result, people with obstructive sleep apnea often develop high blood pressure (hypertension), which can increase the risk of heart disease.

Central sleep apnea is another type of sleep apnea that occurs when the brain doesn't send the right signals to your muscles to get you to start breathing. This type of sleep apnea is more common in people with normal weight, but it affects more than 20 percent of obese people. People who accumulate fat on their neck, tongue, and upper abdomen are especially vulnerable to central sleep apnea. If you suspect that you or a loved one has sleep apnea, there are several ways to help diagnose it.

Positive airway pressure devices, adaptive ventilation, and phrenic nerve stimulators are all treatments that can help with central sleep apnea. Additionally, there are some medications that can help with this condition. People with sleep apnea may suffer from unexplained fatigue and mood changes due to the chronic interruption of their normal sleep cycle. Snoring doesn't necessarily indicate anything potentially serious, but it's important to be aware of any potential signs of sleep apnea.

Devices that treat sleep apnea usually produce very fast results. However, it's important to note that undergoing major surgery while sedated and lying on your back can worsen breathing problems if you have obstructive sleep apnea.

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