Causes of sleep apnea in adults and children

Sleep apnea syndrome is a dangerous disease that is manifested by periodic pauses in breathing during sleep . The danger of the disease lies in the fact that it negatively affects all systems and organs, accelerates the development of cardiovascular and other diseases, threatens with a high risk of heart attack, stroke and sudden death.

Episodes of stopping breathing during sleep (apnea) can occur in adults and children. For effective treatment of sleep apnea, it is necessary to establish the causes that caused this condition and determine the specific type of disease. There are obstructive and central sleep apnea.

What causes obstructive sleep apnea? Causes of the disease

The reasons for stopping or holding your breath during sleep are different for different types of disturbance. The patency of the upper respiratory tract depends on the tone of the pharyngeal muscles and, accordingly, their internal diameter. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs as a result of a mechanical blockage in the passage of air through the pharynx. When muscles relax during sleep, they become prone to collapse ( fall off ). The negative air pressure created in the narrowed airways during inhalation contributes to the complete cessation of the air flow and respiratory arrest.

Learn more from the video about this process.

The immediate causes of obstructive sleep apnea are:

  • anatomical features and defects in the structure of the upper respiratory tract (twisted nasal septum, enlarged uvula, narrow nasal passages);
  • malformations of the bones of the facial skeleton;
  • chronic diseases of the nasopharynx (chronic tonsillitis, adenoids);
  • hereditary narrowing of the airways (structural feature);
  • diseases of the endocrine system (hypothyroidism, diabetes mellitus);
  • laryngospasm.

It should be noted the reasons that contribute to the occurrence of obstructive sleep apnea; in people with these pathologies, the likelihood of obstruction increases significantly. It:

  • obesity;
  • hormonal disorders (menopause, hypothyroidism).

Causes of Central Apnea

Central sleep apnea is less common than obstructive sleep apnea. With this type of disorder , suppression of the function of the respiratory center and / or its stop with open airways is noted. In this case, the head of the brain does not transmit signals to the muscles that control breathing. An example of central sleep apnea is Cheyne-Stokes respiration. The superficial respiratory movements of a patient with such a disorder gradually deepen, become more frequent, and, having reached a maximum in frequency and amplitude, slow down again , until a pause occurs, the duration of which is 15 seconds or more. After it, the breathing cycle is repeated in the same sequence.

Pathological Cheyne-Stokes breathing, the causes and pathogenesis of which are explained by a decrease in the sensitivity of the respiratory center to carbon dioxide and general oxygen starvation, is observed with:

  • intoxications and autointoxications (uremia, diabetic coma);
  • traumatic brain injury;
  • hydrocephalus;
  • atherosclerosis of cerebral vessels;
  • heart failure;
  • poisoning.

Sleep disorders in children

Sleep apnea is observed not only in adults, but also in infants and children. They most often have central apnea. Premature newborns are most at risk in this regard.

The causes of apnea in newborns and preterm infants are related to the immaturity of their central nervous system. It must be remembered that respiratory arrest can be fatal, therefore, to clarify the causes of apnea and the severity of this disorder in newborns, an examination is recommended.

Consequences of apnea

Sleep apnea in adults develops gradually over many years, has a progressive course and threatens with many complications: hypertension, myocardial infarction, severe cardiac arrhythmias, strokes and sudden death.

In this regard, the diagnosis of the disease (determination of its causes) and timely treatment are of great importance. You can be examined and undergo therapy at the Sleep Medicine Center, which specializes in the treatment of this disease. The choice of method depends on the severity of the disease. With a mild course, a set of exercises is recommended, sometimes medications and other methods of treatment. In severe cases and in the presence of complications, CPAP therapy is necessary.

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