Four Types of Sleep Apnea
The most common form of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This occurs when the patient’s throat closes as they inhale, preventing them from bringing air into their lungs. As the muscles and soft tissue of the pharynx expand and relax during sleep, air flow is obstructed in the upper respiratory tract, reducing the amount of oxygen available to the body. This causes the patient to wake up and take a deep breath.
Central sleep apnea, also known as Cheyne-Stokes respiration, is caused by the region of the brain that controls the breathing muscles, fails temporarily. In this fairly form of sleep apnea, there is not blockage in the throat, rather the breathing pauses are due to a failure to attempt to breathe. In some cases, chronic OSA can cause central sleep apnea, and in these cases it is referred to as mixed sleep apnea. The cause of this condition is unknown, but it has been shown that weight, as well as cardiovascular and respiratory health can contribute to its development. In rare cases, even after the physical obstruction has been removed, a patient may still experience sleep apnea. These cases are categorized as complex sleep apnea, and is a form of mixed sleep apnea.