There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), central sleep apnea, and mixed sleep apnea also called complex sleep apnea. The difference between these three sleep apnea types is the treatment and the initial cause for the condition.
is that they all involve the respiratory system causing the sufferers
to not get the needed amounts of oxygen into their lungs.
When the brain gets the signal that the lungs are short on oxygen, it sends a trigger to the body to start breathing again. This causes the patient to gasp for air. That starts the breathing process again. This works until the breathing stops again and again ... causing dire health effects.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common of the sleep apnea types.
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when a person goes to sleep and the muscles in the soft palate of their mouth, the muscles in the tongue, and the uvula (or dangling tissue in the middle of the throat) begins to relax.
These muscles tend to sag when they are relaxed and the sagging causes the airway to be blocked and then collapse.
When the person stops breathing due to the blockage, the chest and diaphragm muscles strain continuously until the block is removed.
This is what causes the big gasp sound and the loud snore. The blood oxygen levels drop significantly which causes an elevation in heart rate and blood pressure.
It has also been shown that irregular heartbeats are a result of this condition.
Some who drink alcohol or take medications like antihistamines or sleeping pills often find their conditions to be worse.
Central sleep apnea is rarer than obstructive sleep apnea. In this disorder, the problem is not that there is an "obstruction". In fact, the airway remains open while the person sleeps.
The problem is
that the chest and diaphragm muscles fail for a short period of time.
When the oxygen level drops, there's often a gap in the brain signaling the
body to breathe.
central sleep apnea sufferers do not necessarily snore -- a very common symptom associated with obstructive sleep apnea, they still can have the after effects of being extremely tired the
next day. Read more about central sleep apnea treatments and symptoms here.
The last of the sleep apnea types is mixed sleep apnea or complex sleep apnea (CompSA). In this case, the person experiences longer periods of obstructive sleep apnea and also has periods of central sleep apnea throughout the night. This type is much more difficult to diagnose and control; suitably called mixed or complex sleep apnea.
People that suffer from mixed
sleep apnea have the dangerous side effects that come with each of the
types of sleep apnea and the treatments may need to be mixed so that
they can be effective and help sufferers find comfortable, uninterrupted
sleep once again.
These types of sleep apnea are different and therefore require different treatments to correct the problem. While lifestyle changes do help in many cases, it may be necessary to include other medical treatments. These combined treatments are often necessary to prevent future health problems by relieving symptoms such as the stress that is put on the heart.
All of the sleep apnea types can be treated by sleep specialists and it is very important that a person seeks medical help if they feel they may be experiencing any one of the types of sleep apnea.