The Different Types of Sleep Apnea

When it comes to sleep apnea, there are three main types to consider: Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), Central sleep apnea (CSA), and complex or mixed sleep apnea. Identifying these types can help diagnose the condition and determine the best treatment plan for each patient.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

The most common form of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This is caused by the tissue in your throat collapsing, blocking the airway.For instance, when the tongue falls back and blocks the airway, it makes breathing extraordinarily challenging or even impossible in some cases.During the apnea episode, your brain will send a signal to your lungs to take a breath; these signals may be strong enough to wake you up.The body then instinctively tries to take deep breaths to re-open the airway and get oxygen flowing again.After using all of its energy to force open the blocked air passageway, the brain realizes that there is still no oxygen getting through and sends out another signal for you to wake up and start breathing again. These signals keep you from falling back into deeper stages of sleep where your body can recover and rest. This failure to enter deep sleep leaves you feeling exhausted throughout the day.Symptoms of OSA include:

  • waking during sleep
  • snoring
  • gasping for air in the middle of the night
  • headaches
  • dry mouth
  • confusion
  • inability to concentrate
  • and more

Obstructive sleep apnea can lead to a variety of health issues such as high blood pressure, and it’s imperative to seek treatment immediately if you think you may be at risk. Central Sleep ApneaCentral sleep apnea occurs due to problems with the brain's control over breathing during sleep. Central sleep apnea has more to do with neurological problems than anatomical problems.Unlike OSA, snoring is not a symptom because the body does not breathe when in a semi-conscious state. While some people may have no symptoms at all, other symptoms may include the following:

  • insomnia
  • waking up with anxiety or in a panic state
  • trouble concentrating during the day
  • and more.

Cheyne-stokes breathing is a type of breathing that has repeated episodes of hyperventilation followed by an inability to breathe. Often, central sleep apnea can occur in this pattern as well.

Complex Sleep Apnea

When it comes to sleep apnea, OSA and central sleep apnea can be combined, leading to complex sleep apnea. Symptoms of complex sleep apnea include:

  • insomnia
  • headaches
  • dry mouth
  • confusion
  • brief wakings during the night
  • cognitive problems during the day

Complex sleep apnea is potentially dangerous due to the number of symptoms it can cause, but luckily there are treatments available to help manage this disease if it is diagnosed. Treatment may involve using a CPAP machine which helps keep breathing passages open all night long. An alternative treatment would be surgical procedures that work with your throat muscles, restoring their function so that breathing can occur naturally again during sleep.

Contact Us

Sleep apnea treatment requires a neuromuscular dental professional. Sleep apnea can cause a broad spectrum of symptoms making it difficult to diagnose and treat. Dr. Firouzi at the Center for Exceptional Dentistry specializes in TMJ and sleep apnea treatment making his office an excellent resource for those in need of relief. Visit our contact page here or call (412) 274-1126 today for more information.