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What causes sleep apnea?

DOCTOR OF THE MONTH - Apr 2013
Apr 2013
User rating for this question
Very Good
Answered by

General Surgeon
Practicing since : 2008
Answered : 9351 Questions
Question
I believe i may stop breathing at night, because I caught myself this morning where i was starting to fall asleep and it felt like i wasn't breathing, and a little bit later i couldn't remember if i had taken a breath, or not. This is not the first tome i have noticed this behavior, it has been happening on and off for days and it scares me, because i worry about possble brain damage. I don't know if i have any symptoms that may be related to my breathing, but i have noticed that the past few days that i have been tired throughout the day.
Posted Tue, 5 Aug 2014 in General Health
 
 
Answered by Dr. Ivan R. Rommstein 1 hour later
Brief Answer:
Hi and welcome to HCM

Detailed Answer:
Dear patient. I understand your concerns. such sensations can be caused bz several causes. Fortunatelz most of these are benign and usually this is caused by anxiety, but of course some other specific disorders should be considered. It can be seen in condition called sleep apnea, which is difficult to prove but there are specific tests which could be done in centres specilized for sleep disorders. sleep apnea can occur with no detectible reason but also can be seen in people who snore or in those with chronic lung diseases (smokers, COPD). second most common cause is stomach issue. such breatinhing difficultieas are seen in hiatal hernia or GERD especially of you have swalloving difficulites. As I alreadz mentioned, anxiety can be primary cause and usually is, but also anxiety will cause aggravation of symptoms in all those above mentioned causes. fortunately ,brain damage or serious consequances are not something that can easily happen and it will just cause awakening and sensation of choking. serious effects are really rare and usually seen in older people with serious heart and lung diseases. At thi spoint i suggest to sleep with elevated upper body, dont eat at least 3 hours prior to sleeping,avoid food that causes bloating,sleep in bigger room with opened windows. Do tests for sleep apnea, gastroscopy and lung ventilation tests. I still think this is probably anxiety but if symptoms persist then these tests are neccesary.
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