If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with sleep apnea, it’s essential to understand the different types of sleep apnea. There are two main types of sleep apnea: obstructive and central. Understanding the difference between the two can help you or your loved one get the best possible treatment and improve the quality of life.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes disruptions in your breathing during sleep. These disruptions can occur multiple times throughout the night and last for seconds or minutes. Sometimes, people with sleep apnea stop breathing for so long that it can cause serious health problems, including heart disease and high blood pressure.
What is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
This is the most common type of sleep apnea. It occurs when your throat muscles relax and block your airway, making breathing difficult. People with OSA often snore loudly due to the obstruction of their airways.
One of the most common causes of OSA is being overweight. Fat deposits around your neck and throat can cause your airway to become blocked. Other causes include smoking, alcohol use and certain medications. OSA can also run in families, so if you have a family member with the disorder, you may be more likely to develop it. Therefore, it’s essential to be aware of the risk factors for OSA.
How is OSA treated?
The most common treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). This involves wearing a mask over your nose and mouth during sleep. The mask is connected to a machine that delivers air into your airway, keeping it open and allowing you to breathe. If CPAP is not practical, surgery may be an option.
There are several types of surgery that can be effective in treating OSA. One type of surgery, called uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), involves removing the excess tissue in your throat that is blocking your airway. Other surgeries involve repositioning the jaw or tongue, or implanting a device to keep the airway open.
What is central sleep apnea (CSA)?
Central sleep apnea is less common than obstructive sleep apnea. It occurs when your brain doesn’t signal your muscles to breathe. This can happen because of an underlying health condition, such as heart failure or stroke. However, certain medications, such as opioids, can also cause it.
The most common symptom of CSA is snoring. Other symptoms can include gasping or choking during sleep, restless sleep and daytime fatigue. If you have any of these symptoms, it’s essential to see a doctor so that you can get a proper diagnosis.
How is central sleep apnea treated?
The most common treatment for CSA is adaptive servo-ventilation (ASV). This therapy uses a machine to deliver air pressure through a mask while you sleep. The machine adjusts the air pressure based on your breathing, providing the right amount of air pressure to keep your airway open. ASV has proven to be effective in treating CSA and can improve the quality of your sleep.
What happens if sleep apnea is left untreated?
If sleep apnea is left untreated, it can lead to serious health problems. Untreated OSA can increase your risk for high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. Untreated CSA can also lead to daytime fatigue and an increased risk of accidents. If you think you may have sleep apnea, you must see a doctor to get a proper diagnosis and treatment.
Just remember that certain lifestyle changes can help prevent OSA, such as losing weight, quitting smoking and avoiding alcohol. However, these changes may not be enough to prevent the disorder. For example, if you have a family history of sleep apnea or other risk factors, you may be more likely to develop the condition. Therefore, it’s essential to be aware of sleep apnea’s symptoms and see a doctor if you think you may have the disorder.
The main difference between obstructive and central sleep apnea is that OSA is caused by a blockage of the airway, while CSA is caused by a failure of the brain to send signals to the muscles to breathe. Both disorders can be treated with similar therapies, such as CPAP or ASV. However, it’s essential to see a doctor so that you can get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.