Types of Sleep Apnea

Types of Sleep Apnea

There are 2 distinct types of Sleep Apnea that we must be aware of. Although some of the clinical side effects may be the same, the causes for each are different as are the treatment options. While still important to recognize and diagnose all types of apnea, Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the only type we are able to treat in a dental office.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) Obstructive Sleep Apnea is characterized by recurrent episodes of upper airway collapse during sleep. This collapse causes an obstruction that partially (Hypopnea) or completely (Apnea) restricts airflow. Individual events can last for a few seconds or in some cases over a minute. People suffering from OSA frequently have hundreds of these individual events per night; a severe sufferer can have over a thousand.

Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) Central Sleep Apnea is less common, but just as dangerous as Obstructive Sleep Apnea. In short, during CSA the brain functions that trigger muscles to initiate breathing ‘forget’ to do so. The result is a stoppage of breathing not due to an airway blockage. The patient will stop for several seconds during which there is not choking, gasping or any struggle to breathe as is the case with Obstructive Sleep Apnea. After a period of stillness with no breathing, the patient will begin breathing again sometimes at a more rapid rate because of elevated CO2 levels in the blood.

Mixed Apnea Mixed apnea is simply a combination of both central and obstructive. Mixed apnea requires diagnosis in a lab and individual treatments for both the central and obstructive problems.