Sleep apnea is a common and often debilitating medical condition that can have severe consequences for the sufferer.
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Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by the relaxation of soft tissue in the back of the throat that blocks the passage of air. Those who suffer from OSA stop breathing as frequently as 60 times per hour and up to 400 times a night. These episodes can last 10 to 60 seconds and occur repeatedly throughout the night!
Obstructive sleep apnea (mild, moderate, and severe) tends to develop after body weight increases and age advances, with obesity being the most salient risk factor for the development of obstructive sleep apnea.
In addition to obesity, other anatomical features associated with obstructive sleep apnea -- many of them hereditary -- include a narrow throat, thick neck, and round head. Contributing factors may include hypothyroidism, excessive and abnormal growth due to excessive production of growth hormone (acromegaly), and allergies and other medical conditions such as a deviated septum that cause congestion in the upper airways.
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