What Causes Sleep Apnea?

The word apnea is Latin for "no breath." Apnea is generally more of a symptom than it is its own disease. Sleep apnea is a diverse experience:

  • 3.2% prevalence in men 20-44 years old
  • 11.3% prevalence in men 45-64 years old
  • 18.1% prevalence in men 61-100 years old

Apnea can be caused by many underlying issues, some of the largest risk factors can be:

  • Being middle-aged or older: People over the age of 60 have a higher risk of sleep apnea.
  • Heart disorders: A heart attack increases your risk of developing sleep apnea.
  • Using pain medications: Especially opioid-based medicine.
  • Sleeping soldier style: This is what WebMD calls sleeping on your back.

CPAP machines are used by millions of people around the world, and are the first thing doctors bring up after you are diagnosed with sleep apnea. CPAP is a non-invasive treatment that uses a simple devise to blow a stream of air into the back of the throat, and nudges any obstructions causing apneas out of the way. They are the first line of defense against sleep apnea, which can - in rare circumstances - be a fatal condition or lead to severe impairment due to sleep deprivation.