Your Guide to the 3 Different Types of Sleep Apnea

Your Guide to the 3 Different Types of Sleep Apnea

Are you sick of having heavy eyes throughout the day? Or are you waking up feeling like you are out of breath? If so, use this as your guide to the three different types of sleep apnea to recognize the warning signs and what you can do about it.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most prevalent form of sleep apnea that people have. OSA occurs when the upper airway continuously collapses while you are fast asleep. While it’s crucial for your body to be calm as you sleep, you still want your soft palate and tongue to be hard at work because your airway will narrow or cinch shut when it relaxes.

The respiratory system should always have adequate airflow, even while sleeping. When a blockage in the nasal passage impedes your breathing, an apnea or apneic episode occurs. Unfortunately, these episodes happen multiple times a night for someone with OSA.

Older men are the most vulnerable to OSA, but everyone, including children, may discover they have the disorder. The disparity between men and women with OSA shrinks after menopause, with the odds of OSA rising approximately 20 percent in postmenopausal women. 

Symptoms for OSA

The effects of OSA may not be clear initially, considering many symptoms could be subtle, like daytime drowsiness. Unbeknownst to you, your brain may not get the airflow required while you snooze, so you may wake up feeling like a zombie. Other symptoms include: 

  • Gasping for air
  • Choking
  • Loud snoring
  • Sporadic bouts of not breathing while asleep
  • Morning headaches and loss of memory

Possible Causes for OSA

There’s no specific cause for sleep apnea, but some correlations are based on various conditions. Obesity is one of the causes of OSA, making diet and exercise vital to minimize its effects. It’s possible to alleviate OSA symptoms if you keep your weight under control, but it’s not certain that it will go away.

Conditions beyond your control like hypothyroidism and polycystic ovary syndrome also could be to blame. If you have pre-existing lung conditions like asthma or COPD, you are more susceptible to OSA.

Getting a Diagnosis

The most effective way to diagnose sleep apnea is to undergo polysomnography, otherwise known as a sleep study. A sleep specialist will monitor your vitals as you snooze in a hospital or sleep center. There, a doctor will use tools to measure your brain waves (EEG), eye movement (EOM), heart rate (ECG), oxygen levels (pulse oximetry test), and muscle movement (EOM). These tests note any abnormalities as you sleep, alerting them of the likely diagnosis.

Treatment Options

Every OSA treatment should begin with a lifestyle change involving healthy weight loss. Dropping a few pounds makes OSA treatment much easier and more effective after the fact. Additionally, losing weight may positively impact your blood pressure and other health-related issues.

Pairing a CPAP device alongside your new diet and fitness routine works wonders on OSA. The CPAP machine ensures that your airway stays open and your airflow stays steady as you sleep. If CPAP therapy isn’t cutting it, there are alternatives available. Bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP) therapy is the next line of defense when CPAP isn’t enough. This device helps as you inhale and exhale.

The position you sleep in is key to keeping OSA under control. Sleeping on your side is better than on your back or stomach because it keeps the airway open more than other positions.

If all else fails, surgery is the last resort. No one wants to undergo a medical procedure, but in extreme cases, there’s no other way to circumvent it. The one positive about surgery is that it’s a sure-fire way to correct the issue. While the problem may persist, it won’t be nearly as severe.

Central Sleep Apnea

With OSA being the most common form of sleep apnea, it was imperative to discuss it thoroughly. Plus, there are many commonalities between OSA and the other two conditions. Central sleep apnea is the second type of sleep apnea. It differs from OSA in that the condition is neurological, although both obstruct your breathing at night.

What makes central sleep apnea so jarring is that you completely stop breathing. There’s no snoring involved, unlike with OSA, because the brain and nervous system don’t link up, inhibiting your breathing efforts.

While the symptoms may be sparse, there are a few indications that one may have central sleep apnea. Waking up in a state of panic, issues with falling asleep, and trouble concentrating are warning signs of the condition.

Some possible causes for central sleep apnea include opioid use, prior heart problems, and sleeping at high altitudes. But doctors are merely making educated guesses. Central sleep apnea is idiopathic, making it difficult to identify the root of it. Like with OSA, CPAP therapy is the way to go for improvement.

Complex Sleep Apnea

The last version of sleep apnea is a hybrid between the first two, combining elements of OSA and central sleep apnea called complex sleep apnea syndrome. The signs of complex sleep apnea syndrome mirror that of OSA, such as daytime fatigue, frequent headaches, and poor sleep quality.

Complex sleep apnea is much more common than central sleep apnea, and combining the two can be more troublesome, especially when it’s not obvious during a sleep study. The odds are that if CPAP, BiPAP, or other remedies don’t work to reduce the apnea, complex sleep apnea syndrome is the culprit.

If you have this condition, a combination of treatments is the best course of action. That includes CPAP devices and treatment for any underlying conditions that make it worse.

This completes your guide to the three different types of sleep apnea. We know it can be unsettling when you receive a sleep apnea diagnosis, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

CPAPnation can provide that light with several CPAP devices and accessories to ensure your health while remaining comfortable. No insurance? No Problem! Because you can get a CPAP mask with no prescription at CPAPnation. Receive free shipping for all orders over $49, so fill that cart today with all your CPAP essentials.

Your Guide to the 3 Different Types of Sleep Apnea

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