Types of Sleep Apnea Impacting Lives

Sleep apnea is a serious, common and sometimes frightening sleep disorder affecting millions of Americans. Sleep apnea means “without breath” and sufferers experience a disruption in the sleep pattern and cease to breathe for an abnormally long period of time. This disruption is caused either by blockage or when the area of the brain which controls breathing does not send a message to the muscles which control breathing and the pattern is disrupted. Quite frequently, the sufferer is completely unaware of the problem and it is caught by a partner, or discovered during a routine physical. There are several different types of sleep apnea, but all should be taken seriously and be evaluated by a physician.

Types of Sleep Apnea
There are several different types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central, and mixed.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea
According to the sleep experts at Wrong Diagnosis, the most common apnea experienced is obstructive. In obstructive apnea, the airway is blocked by the tongue or fatty tissue as the muscles relax, causing the person to stop breathing for significant and dangerous periods of time. The person may be completely unaware that they are oxygen deprived, but momentarily arouse to gasp for breath. because the sleep pattern is disturbed, they fall into a deeper sleep and experience more, and sometime longer periods of not breathing. This can lead to potentially dangerous irregular heartbeats and low blood pressure.

Characteristics of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

• Believing you are getting enough sleep but still feeling sleepy
• Snoring
• Shortness of breath and choking between breaths
• Extraordinarily long periods between breaths
• Waking with a dry mouth
• Increased blood pressure

Central Sleep Apnea
Like obstructive apnea, central apnea also causes a disruption in the breathing pattern. The difference, however, is the cause. In central sleep apnea, the brain fails to send a signal to the muscles which control breathing and breathing temporarily stops. According to Webmd experts, it is not that you cannot breathe, but that the body does not attempt to breathe for extended periods of time. Less common than Obstructive Apnea, Central Apnea is usually caused by other medical conditions, such as ones affecting the lower brain stem.

Characteristics of Central Sleep Apnea

• Waking with a dry mouth
• Increased blood pressure
• Abnormal heart rhythm
• Headaches
• Grogginess during the day

Mixed Apnea
Even more infrequently, some people experience a combination of both types of apnea called Mixed or Complex Apnea. Although there is much to be understood about this type of apnea, it is thought to develop when a person experiences long term sleep disordered breathing, such as living with Obstructive Sleep Apnea undiagnosed and untreated. In this type of apnea, a person may experience the symptoms of Obstructive Apnea for long periods with shorter periods of Central Apnea.

Complications of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a very serious health issue and should never be ignored. In addition to the short term dangers such operating vehicles and machinery while sleepy, the long term effects can include such conditions as heart failure and lung malfunction.

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2 Comments

  • I was very glad to see this article explaining the different types of Sleep Apnea. I have Narcolepsy/Cataplexy and for years have experienced episodes of erratic breathing at sleep onset. I never suspected Sleep Apnea because I didn’t snore or ever wake up gasping for breath or choking. After taking a sleep test, I was diagnosed with Sleep Apnea. I sleep with a full mask, C-pap and oxygen machine every night. My doctor was hoping it would reduce my daytime sleepiness, but it doesn’t. It did, however, reduce the number of times I wake up during the night. I will keep using the C-pap to keep my heart from enlarging.

  • Most of the people affected by the sleep disorders and can be very dangerous for themselves or to the others. Many traffic and industrial accidents are only caused by the lack of sleep. Some sleep disorders are potentially fatal. Obstructive sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep disorder problem and it is a condition in which pauses in breathing occur during sleep because the airway has become narrowed, blocked, or floppy.

    http://www.justcancer.org/obstructive-sleep-apnea-linked-to-cancer.html

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