A 35-year-old member asked:
can sleep apnea be affected by altitude?
3 doctor answers
Dr. Jeffrey Jarvis answered
37 years experience Dentistry
Not the event: Sleep apnea is caused by a restriction of airflow by tissues, producing a cessation of breathing for 10 seconds or more. The altitude would not change the frequency or occurence of the events. But, ....Since you have less oxygen available at altitude, it could make the apnic event more serious, ie. Even less o2 than before. If you have severe probs, talk to your md.
Answered on May 24, 2017
Dr. Carlo Hatem answered
25 years experience Pulmonary Critical Care
No: Altitude can change the breathing pattern but does not cause or aggravate sleep apnea.
Answered on Apr 1, 2019
Dr. Marybeth Lambe answered
45 years experience Travel Medicine
Yes but Complex: Many people get a form of 'Central Sleep Apnea' if they sleep at a high enough altitude. We breathe hard when we are at extreme heights and blow off a lot of carbon dioxide. Lack of carbon dioxide in the blood fools the brain and decreases our drive to breathe well & deeply while sleeping. This is different than more common obstructive sleep apnea which can be impacted as well
Answered on Sep 5, 2017
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