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Updated: Nov 29, 2023

Sleep apnea remains a sleeping disorder that affects between 2-9% of adults, potentially going undiagnosed. While people might be aware of the condition in general, they may not know about the different types of sleep apnea and what they entail. Each version affects people differently and can have various causes.

Learning the differences between the three can help your local sleep apnea treatment center diagnose your condition and formulate a treatment plan. Let’s learn about the different varieties and how you can tell the difference between them.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea develops when the throat muscles relax too much while they sleep. These muscles help support your tonsils, sidewalls of your throat, and your tongue, among others. If these muscles begin to relax, the air pathways narrow, and the oxygen flow constricts. Without enough oxygen into your bloodstream during your sleep, your brain jolts you awake to help increase your respiratory effort and get more oxygen into your system.

Depending on the severity of your sleeping problems, you may snort, choke, or gasp anywhere between five to thirty times in an hour as your body tries to compensate. As your body works harder to get the oxygen it needs, you are less likely to reach those beneficial deep, restful phases of sleep that your body needs.

Central Sleep Apnea

While OSA might be the most common variety, people with sleep apnea may struggle with other variations of the issue. Central sleep apnea is the result of a miscommunication in the signals your brain sends out. Your brain doesn’t transmit the necessary signals to your breathing muscles for short periods, resulting in your body not making an effort to breathe for the duration of the miscommunication.

Usually, if you suffer from central sleep apnea, you experience symptoms such as shortness of breath, a difficult time getting to sleep, or staying asleep for extended stretches. With CSA, it may have been caused by an underlying condition that requires treatment, such as a stroke or heart failure.

Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome

Complex sleep apnea might be the least common version, but it occasionally shows up in patients undergoing CPAP for obstructive sleep apnea. During the OSA treatment, some patients have developed an emergent and sometimes persistent form of CSA.

If you develop complex sleep apnea during your CPAP treatment, it’s not cause for alarm. The condition tends to be transitory in nature and clears up after eight weeks of treatment. Additionally, complex sleep apnea syndrome can develop after a tracheostomy procedure for your OSA.

The Next Steps

Now that you know the different variations and understand some of the risk factors involved, you and your doctor can determine a treatment plan. With the help of Aesthetic Smiles, we can help you explore alternative options to the CPAP machine.

Our experienced sleep apnea dentists can help with your sleep-disordered breathing through our dental treatments; you can begin to experience uninterrupted sleep in no time. Contact our office to schedule a consultation today!

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