Sleep apnea causes

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1] Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Saarah T. Alkhairy, M.D.


Sleep apnea may be commonly caused by a large neck/abodminal circumference (e.g. obese individuals), administration of medications, diseases that narrow the respiratory airways (e.g. enlarged adenoids, enlarged tonsils), diseases that affect the central nervous system (e.g. cerebrovascular accident, spinal cord injury), or infectious diseases (e.g. polio).


Life Threatening Causes

Life-threatening causes include conditions which may result in death or permanent disability within 24 hours if left untreated.

Common Causes

Causes by Organ Systems

Cardiovascular No underlying causes
Chemical/Poisoning No underlying causes
Dental No underlying causes
Dermatologic No underlying causes
Drug Side Effect Elosulfase alfa, galsulfase, laronidase
Ear Nose Throat Enlarged adenoids, enlarged tonsils, malformations of the nose, malformations of the throat
Endocrine Diabetic neuropathy, hypothyroidism
Environmental No underlying causes
Gastroenterologic Gastroesophageal reflux
Genetic Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, Hallermann-Streiff syndrome, Joubert syndrome, Marfan syndrome, muscular dystrophy, myotonic dystrophy, Potocki-Lupski syndrome, WAGR syndrome
Hematologic No underlying causes
Iatrogenic Postoperative complication
Infectious Disease Common cold, meningoencephalitis, post-polio syndrome, sinusitis, tonsilitis
Musculoskeletal/Orthopedic Muscular dystrophy, myotonic dystrophy
Neurologic Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Arnold-Chiari malformation, cerebrovascular accident, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, diabetic neuropathy, idiopathic intracranial hypertension, Joubert syndrome, multiple system atrophy, post-polio syndrome, spinal cord injury
Nutritional/Metabolic Hurler syndrome, metabolic syndrome, obesity, Pompe disease
Obstetric/Gynecologic No underlying causes
Oncologic No underlying causes
Ophthalmologic No underlying causes
Overdose/Toxicity Alcohol intoxication, opioid overdose
Psychiatric No underlying causes
Pulmonary Obesity hypoventilation syndrome
Renal/Electrolyte Chronic kidney disease
Rheumatology/Immunology/Allergy No underlying causes
Sexual No underlying causes
Trauma Spinal cord injury
Urologic No underlying causes
Miscellaneous No underlying causes

Causes in Alphabetical Order


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