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What Are the Different Types of Sleep Apnea?

January 2, 2024

Sleep apnea is a surprisingly common but often overlooked health issue that affects over 18 million adults in the United States alone and countless millions more worldwide. Properly understanding the different types of this hazardous sleep disorder can help you recognize the red flag symptoms in yourself or a loved one and urgently seek appropriate medical treatment before sleep apnea takes a potentially irreversible toll on cardiovascular health, mental health, and quality of life.

Defining Sleep Apnea 

First, let’s clearly define what sleep apnea is. Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder characterized by repeated pauses or substantially decreased breathing while sleeping. These potentially lengthy, oxygen-depriving pauses between breaths severely stress the body and prevent restorative, rejuvenating sleep cycles. There are three primary types of this dangerous sleep disorder:

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) 

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the most prevalent type, accounting for 84% of all sleep apnea cases. As its name denotes, OSA occurs when the muscles and soft tissues in the throat overly relax and collapse, blocking the airway during sleep. The brain signals the body to keep breathing, but the obstructed airway prevents airflow. 

Symptoms of OSA include loud, habitual snoring, abrupt awakenings with a gasping or choking sensation, morning headaches, and excessive daytime sleepiness. Left untreated, OSA raises risks for serious conditions like high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, asthma, depression, and more.

Central Sleep Apnea (CSA)

Central Sleep Apnea stems from a neurological issue rather than a physical airway obstruction. With CSA, the brain fails to properly signal the muscles to breathe due to instability in the respiratory control center. CSA may relate to irregular heart rhythms, stroke, or the effects of certain pain medications. 

CSA symptoms include breath holding spells during sleep, shortness of breath awakening you, difficulty getting restful sleep, night sweats, and low energy. CSA is less common but quite serious, requiring swift medical intervention.

Mixed Sleep Apnea

Some patients suffer from Mixed Sleep Apnea, or Complex Sleep Apnea, exhibiting signs of both obstructive and central sleep apnea. This amalgamation severely fragments sleep and stresses vital systems. Successfully treating mixed sleep apnea involves addressing both contributing factors with coordinated care. 

Don’t Ignore the Signs: Seek an Expert Opinion 

If you or a loved one shows symptoms of OSA, CSA, or mixed sleep apnea, it is critical to seek sleep apnea treatment in Southington as soon as possible. At Southington Dentistry, Dr. Neil Salesky has over 30 years of expertise helping patients manage their sleep apnea through customized oral appliance therapy. With a thorough exam, advanced screening, and committed care, Dr. Salesky and his team can get to the root of your sleep issues, dramatically improve your sleep quality, boost daily energy, and reduce health risks. Schedule an appointment today!

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