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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What causes sleep apnea?

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    Dr Smariti Kapila

    Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) Surgeon

    She has primarily been trained in Sydney, but also across Australia, including Darwin and several outreach communities, Adelaide, Gosford, and Sydney, including St Vincent's, Royal … View Profile

    Sleep apneoa quite literally means absence of breathing during sleep.

    It can be:

    • central - ie the brain is not telling the body to breath
    • obstructive - ie periodic blocking of the airway, especially when the patient falls into the deep sleep phase.

    Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) usually results from narrowing of the airway anywhere along it's course, for example:
    • nose - adenoids, congestion, septal deviation
    • mouth - tonsils, soft palate, tongue, throat muscles

    Relaxation during the deep sleep phase causes collapse, and blockage causes the blood oxygen to drop.  When the body notices this, it makes efforts to increase the airflow, ultimately waking the patient up.

    The repeated low oxygen levels and the lack of deep restful sleep result waking tired, daytime tiredness, poor concentration even in children, and in adults, are linked with blood pressure and cardiac issues.

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