Sleep Apnea – Causes And Symptoms

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea and is caused by an obstruction in your airway. These blockages can occur when the muscles of your throat relax too much or when tissues in the back of your throat collapse. People with obstructive sleep apnea may stop breathing repeatedly during the night and snore loudly while sleeping. These episodes of breathing temporarily lower oxygen levels in the body and cause daytime drowsiness, restless sleep, and a feeling of choking or gasping during wakefulness.

Central Sleep Apnea

Central sleep apnea (CSA) is an uncommon sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. It can occur in both adults as well as children. Everyone breathes during sleep, but CSA happens when the part of your brain that controls breathing isn’t sending the right signals to your breathing muscles. These pauses in breathing cause oxygen levels in your body to decrease. When central sleep apnea happens too often, or for too long, the drops in blood oxygen level can damage your brain cells. This can be serious or even life-threatening. CSA also increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Sudden, repeated episodes of low blood oxygen can worsen heart problems, especially if you have underlying heart disease or high cholesterol. Symptoms of central sleep apnea include snoring and abnormal breathing patterns during sleep. Typically, these symptoms go unnoticed or are only noticed by your partner or caregiver.

Complex Sleep Apnea

Complex sleep apnea is a more severe form of central sleep apnea (CSA) in which patients experience repeated apnea events even when using positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP or an oral appliance). These apnea events can often be caused by underlying medical conditions and medications. There are treatment options that can help people feel better and improve their quality of life. It usually involves addressing the underlying causes of the abnormal breathing while offering treatments to support normal breathing. These include positive airway pressure, supplemental oxygen, medications, and nerve stimulation.