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Snoring & Sleep apnea

Three types of sleep apnea

admin 918 views May 10, 2019

Having a restful sleep for over seven hours a night is what our body needs. But, according to the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 12% of us experience sleep apnea. So, if you suspect yourself, your friends or bed partner of sleep apnea symptoms let’s figure what types of sleep apnea there are, how to detect and treat them.

Sleep apnea types and their commonalities

There are three types of sleep apnea:

  1. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
  2. Central sleep apnea (CSA)
  3. Complex sleep apnea syndrome

What unites them is an occasional pause in breathing. Each type has an “apnea”; this means breathing stops for more than 10 seconds. During these pauses, the airflow doesn’t get to the brain and wakes us up several times a night. Different types of sleep apnea have different lengths and numbers of pauses. In some cases, our brain doesn’t send an alert to wake us up and this is a concern. Being aware of the types of sleep apnea and their differences is the first step towards resolving the problem.

Obstructive sleep apnea

Imagine your bathroom sink stuck so the water can’t flush in. The same happens during obstructive sleep disorder. The sink is our throat, water is the air. The problem is that during sleep the back throat muscles relax and collapse enough to block airflow. Obstructive sleep apnea causes can be:

  • obesity
  • hypertension
  • middle age

Although sufferers may have different personal experiences, these are the most common causes of OSA. What about obstructive sleep apnea treatment? A sleep test measuring brain and body activity during sleep is the quickest way to detect OSA. Post-test, a doctor may suggest a device for your situation, a diet to lose weight or surgery to remove tonsils.

Central sleep apnea

We’ve mentioned that in some cases the brain doesn’t send an alert to wake you up during apnea. This is what happens during central sleep apnea and is due to a neurological reason. Central sleep apnea symptoms are similar to OSA, like breathing pauses and constant awakenings at night. What are the central sleep apnea causes? All OSA causes apply and some additional illnesses, like Parkinson’s disease, stroke, chronic heart failure and brain infection. Central sleep apnea diagnosis usually includes a sleep test as it helps to rule out OSA or other sleep disorders. The next step concentrates on apnea treatment. Using either CPAP or bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP) are an option.

Complex sleep apnea syndrome

This has only been recently identified and so there’s no exact complex sleep apnea syndrome definition. It is a combination of OSA and CSA. The “syndrome” part is a tip for us not to mix up the disease and the syndrome. In this case, we’re talking about a group of symptoms which consistently occur together and lead to the problem. People with severe complex sleep apnea syndrome usually have breathing problems even after the airway obstruction was treated. As doctors are now researching “What is complex sleep apnea syndrome?”, there’s no common advice on complex sleep apnea syndrome treatment.


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