How do you get a sleep disorder?

I was recently diagnosed with sleep apnea. I know sleep apnea is not something you can catch like a cold, but is there anything that I might have done that made me get sleep apnea?

Doctors Answers (3)

J. Douglas Hudson, MD, DABSM
Answered on: 9/17/2013

Sleep apnea is very common and also very serious. It is caused by a collapse of the tongue and soft palate which blocks the airway. While it is more common in overweight persons, half of the patients with sleep apnea are not overweight. It may be secondary to congenital narrowing of the airway and often runs in families. Sleep apnea is often aggravated by sedatives such as medication or alcohol. You need a sleep study.

Vector Sleep Diagnostics Center
Answered on: 9/12/2013

There are many factors that play a role in developing sleep apnea. And yes, you are right, it develops over a period of time (not overnight like a cold). There are people that are prone to this condition based on anatomy/ structure of their airway (windpipe), their jaw/ facial bone structures etc. Weight gain plays a significant role as well. There are also some medications and other medical conditions that may worsen pre-existing sleep apnea.

Timothy J. Delcambre, DDS, MHA
Answered on: 9/12/2013

Some sleep apnea causes may be reversed, such as being overweight and enlarged tonsils and adenoids. Losing weight or removing the tonsils and adenoids may help with sleep apnea. Other causes of sleep apnea, such as central sleep apnea, deal with the sleep center in the brain. Speak with your sleep medicine doctor or your primary care physician as to what is causing your sleep apnea and what you can do to possible reverse this condition.