October 4, 2023
types of sleep apnea

In this post we’ll be discussing the types of sleep apnea along with their signs and symptoms and risk factors.

Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder in which breathing stops and starts repeatedly during sleep. Snoring is observed to be the most common symptom, although not everyone who snores suffers from it, its effects on the body can tire a person out and leave them feeling exhausted during the day.

It may have more serious health consequences if left untreated. Knowing the symptoms of sleep apnea is the first step in determining whether you or a loved one has it and when to seek medical attention.

sleep apnea types

Types of Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, and complex sleep apnea are the three types of sleep apnea.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

This is the most common type of sleep apnea, also known as obstructive sleep apnea-hypopnea.

It occurs when the muscles in your throat repeatedly collapse, resulting in a partial or full blockage of airflow.

Snoring is one of the most noticeable symptoms of OSA because the person tries to resume breathing when it stops.

OSA can be mild, moderate, or severe, with the apnea-hypopnea index used to determine severity (AHI).

This system counts the number of times a person’s breathing pauses, as well as the periods of shallow breathing, that occur during an hour of sleep.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine defines mild obstructive sleep apnea as 5 to 15 episodes of breath interruption per hour.

They have moderate OSA if they have 15 to 30 episodes per hour, and severe if they have more than 30 events per hour.

People with unusual jaw positions, obesity, nasal congestion, and a large neck size are more likely to suffer from OSA.

Central Sleep Apnea

This type is a central nervous system function that occurs when the brain fails to signal the body to continue breathing while sleeping. 

However, it differs from OSA, in that people suffering from it are unable to breathe on their own when they notice they have stopped breathing because the brain and muscles are not operating properly to that extent.

Snoring is also present in this case, but it is less noticeable than in OSA. Central sleep apnea can be caused by conditions that affect the areas of the brain that control breathing, such as cervical spine injuries, stroke, heart attack, brain infection, heart failure, and spine surgery.

Complex Sleep Apnea

When a person has both obstructive and central sleep apnea, then its complex apnea. When a person suffers from it, air stops flowing to their lungs for 10 seconds or longer, causing them to stop breathing entirely. This can happen up to 30 times per hour in some people.

When a control center in the brain detects that they have stopped breathing, it causes them to wake up just enough to take a breath. Then they go back to sleep, and the cycle starts all over again. They might not even remember waking up in distress.

This sleep illness is still a major public health issue, as many people live with it without being properly diagnosed.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, between 80 and 90 percent of adults with OSA go undiagnosed.

A person with this apnea wakes up frequently and never truly enters the deeper and more rehabilitative stages of sleep.

In addition, the person’s heart rate and blood pressure continue to rise as a result of this event.

As you might expect, being drawn out of and back into breathing hour after hour, night after night, can be taxing on the body.

Those who suffer from it are more likely to fall asleep behind the wheel. Several studies have found that people with untreated sleep apnea have a significantly higher risk of being involved in a car accident.

This apnea and chronic sleep deprivation can make staying awake and focused on the road while driving extremely difficult. It may also cause a delay in reaction time.

Furthermore, OSA is associated with mental disorders such as anxiety and depression.

According to a 2017 study published in the Journal of Neurosciences In Rural Practice, it is recommended that health professionals screen their patients with OSA for the disorder specifically depression in order to properly diagnose and treat them.

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What are the Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?

Numerous people who have this sleeping disorder are unaware that they are waking up in between sleep cycles.

All they know is that they will be tired the following morning. The first and most common sign is snoring, which is typically observed by a person’s bed partner. But not everyone who snores suffers from it (although it is a common symptom).

If you have the disorder, snoring may be accompanied by gasping or choking noises while you are asleep.

Other signs and symptoms include:

  • Poor concentration
  • Low mood
  • Restless sleep
  • Heartburn
  • Waking up in the morning with a dry mouth or throat
  • Waking up with a headache
  • Night sweats
  • Insomnia
  • Waking up dizzy
  • Weight gain
  • Excessive daytime fatigue
  • Lack of energy
  • Forgetfulness
  • Irritability
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Frequent urination at night

These symptoms may or may not be related to sleep apnea.

Notwithstanding, you should discuss any concerns you have with your doctor in order to receive an accurate diagnosis and adequate intervention

What are the Sleep Apnea Risk Factors and Consequences?

Risk factors of sleep apnea increases with age and being overweight or obese. Although both men and women are affected by apnea, men are at a higher risk than women.

People who have a family history of snoring or any sleeping illness may be predisposed to it as well. Alcohol consumption before bedtime can also lead to having it.

In general, limiting alcohol consumption (to two or less drinks per day for men and one or less drinks per day for women, according to the CDC) may help prevent this disorder.

Neurological disorders (Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Parkinson’s disease), hormonal disorders, postmenopausal symptoms, polycystic ovary syndrome, hypothyroid and hyperthyroid diseases, chronic kidney diseases and chronic lung diseases are thought to be potential risk factors for the disorder.

A sleep study, either at home or in a sleep lab, is required for diagnosis.

Following a diagnosis, the most common treatment is the use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP).

Sleep apnea, if left untreated, can have serious consequences such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and depression.

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