The three main types are:

  1. Obstructive – caused by your airways closing off, blocking the passage of air to your lungs.
  2. Central – caused by either a lack of signal from the brain to breathe, no transmission of the signal due to nerve damage, or weak lung muscles that cannot inflate the lungs.
  3. Mixed – caused by a mixture of the above.

Each type of sleep apnoea has a particular set of risk factors. If you have one or more of those risk factors, you are more likely to develop that type of sleep apnoea.

Causes of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea

During sleep your airway muscles naturally relax, making the airways slightly narrower and more collapsible. If your airways are already narrow due to other risk factors, like being obese or being born with slender air passages, they may close completely.

Also in this section: Obesity, Airway shape and structure, Drugs, Over 65’s, For women.

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Causes of Central Sleep Apnoea

If you have a specific disease that causes brain or nerve damage or lung muscle weakness, you are at risk of Central Sleep Apnoea. If you have heart failure, or take opioid-based painkillers, you are at risk of having both abnormal breathing patterns and Central Sleep Apnoea.

Also in this section: Brain and neuromuscular disorders, Kyphoscoliosis, Congestive heart failure, Opioids, Idiopathic Central Sleep Apnoea.

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Causes of Mixed Sleep Apnoea

Mixed Sleep Apnoea shares the risk factors of both Central and Obstructive Sleep Apnoea. For example, you might have heart failure, which puts you at risk of Central Sleep Apnoea. You may also be overweight or obese, which puts you at risk of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea. The result is a combination of both types of apnoea.

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Snoring and Nasal Obstruction

Snoring can cause you to wake up more than usual, resulting in daytime drowsiness and irritability. Over time, snoring can cause your airways to become inflamed and narrow. This can lead to Obstructive Sleep Apnoea.

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