What causes sleep apnea in adults? Studies have found that young adults with high blood pressure or “hypertension’ have a high prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea. This can be due to several factors, including a sedentary lifestyle.
When you think of sleep apnea, you might associate it with overweight, older men, who snore loudly and incessantly. Their bed partners suffer beside them, unable to sleep through the noise, crying out for someone, or some way, to stop the snore.
However, this is not always the case. Granted, a huge proportion of older and overweight men do suffer from sleep apnea, but in reality, it can actually affect anyone, at any age. This includes young, lean and fit men, women and children too, especially those with pre-existing chronic pain conditions.
What causes sleep apnea in adults (18–30 years)?
Studies have found that young adults with high blood pressure or “hypertension’ have a high prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea. This can be due to several factors, including a sedentary lifestyle.
A lot of young adults spend hours each day sitting at their desk or computer and as a result many have an increased BMI or gain weight as a result.
Increased day to day stress at work or home, pressure to ‘burn the candle at both ends’ or a struggle to balance hectic schedules have also been shown to cause increased stress and hypertension.
For these reasons, more exercise and an improved diet can help to reduce or prevent high blood pressure in young adults.
Interestingly, however, young, lean men are also at risk. The presence of OSA is sometimes associated with insulin resistance and a rise in insulin secretion to maintain normal glucose levels. One study showed that OSA may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes independently of traditional risk factors such as obesity and OSA may adversely affect glucose metabolism at a very young age.
Other research has shown that young adults with OSA are more likely to suffer from moderate to severe pain. Because of the high prevalence of chronic pain in younger adults, this study highlights the need to understand the impact of OSA diagnosis and treatment on pain intensity and how this might improve their quality of life.
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