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Cause of Sleep Apnea

  • The most common cause of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is obesity. Having a large neck (men: greater than 16.5 inches around, women: greater than 15 inches around) increases your risk for OSA, as it collapses the airway. However, not everyone who has Sleep Apnea is overweight. Thin people develop the disorder, too.
  • Your throat muscles and tongue relax more than normal.
  • Your tongue and tonsils (tissue masses in the back of your mouth) are large compared to the opening into your windpipe.
  • The shape of your head and neck (bony structure) may cause a smaller airway size in the mouth and throat area.
  • The aging process limits the ability of brain signals to keep your throat muscles stiff during sleep.
  • If you have family members with Sleep Apnea, you may be at increased risk.
  • Due to intake of alcohol, sedatives or tranquilizers, these substances relax the muscles in your throat which result in Sleep Apnea.
  • Smokers are three times more likely to have Obstructive Sleep Apnea than are people who've never smoked. Smoking may increase the amount of inflammation and fluid retention in the upper airway.