Understanding the Different Types of Sleep Apnea

Understanding the Different Types of Sleep Apnea

About a quarter of women and men in the United States (and almost half of all obese adults) have a serious, potentially life-threatening breathing disorder called sleep apnea

If you have sleep apnea, by definition, you stop breathing for 10 seconds or more, multiple times a night, which puts you at risk for:

Some apneas (i.e., pauses in your breath) can last for up to a minute or more. If you have severe sleep apnea, you could stop breathing more than 30 times an hour. Multiple apneas reduce your blood oxygen level: While normal blood oxygen saturation is 96-97%, with severe sleep apnea, blood oxygen saturation may be less than 80%. 

Dana J. Rockey, DMD, takes sleep and sleep apnea seriously and his practice is devoted solely to helping patients with this condition. Depending on the type of sleep apnea you have, he may recommend lifestyle changes, dental sleep apnea treatment, or other therapies.

Obstructive sleep apnea

Most people with sleep apnea have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). If you have OSA, the muscles in your upper airway may relax significantly interfering with the free flow of air through your airway when you sleep. Other anatomical conditions such as the presence of a large amount of fat tissue, large tonsils or a narrow throat can worsen the airflow obstruction problem. Here are some facts about OSA:

Sleep apnea affects more than 20 percent of people with obesity. If you’re overweight, Dr. Rockey may recommend weight loss to help take the pressure off your airway. Simply losing excess fat and weight could dramatically improve your sleep apnea.

Other lifestyle adjustments could include quitting smoking or getting more exercise. Even sleeping on your side may reduce your nighttime snoring and gasping, which are common symptoms of sleep apnea. These interfere with your rest by periodically waking you up and producing an interrupted and unhealthy sleep. 

You could also benefit from a custom-designed oral appliance. Dr. Rockey fits you for the appliance in the comfort of our office. You then place the appliance over your teeth before retiring for the night. The appliance keeps your jaw in a forward position helping your airway to be more open.

An oral appliance is easier to tolerate than a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. The oral appliance can help by stopping you from snoring, which is one of the primary symptoms of sleep apnea. The goal is to be able to get the deep, restful sleep your body needs. 

Central sleep apnea

Only about 0.9% of Americans over age 40 have a rare type of sleep apnea called central sleep apnea (CSA). Unlike OSA, CSA isn’t caused by a physical obstruction. There are two types of CSA, and each has subtypes.

Hypoventilation CSA

If you have hypoventilation CSA, your brain fails to send the right signals to your respiratory system to keep you breathing while you sleep. Subtypes include narcotic-induced and congenital CSA. It can also be caused by an underlying medical condition or neuromuscular disease.

Hyperventilation CSA

With hyperventilation CSA, you take deep, quick breaths that are followed by apneas (i.e., pauses). If you have hyperventilation CSA, the pacing and control of your respiration is abnormal. 

Subtypes include:

Treatment of Central Sleep Apnea usually includes addressing underlying conditions. A customized oral appliance may also help you breathe at night.

Complex sleep apnea

This is a combination of both OSA and CSA which may have many factors to consider when treating this disorder. We recommend treating this by collaborating with a Board Certified Sleep Physician.

If you’re having trouble sleeping at night or staying awake during the day, Dr. Rockey will help facilitate a sleep study to determine whether you have sleep apnea and to what degree. Based on the results and physician recommendations, he then recommends appropriate treatments to help you breathe, sleep and live better. 

Treat your sleep apnea so you can keep your body and brain the healthiest. Call us at 949-558-0554 in Newport Beach, CA or 928-235-6925 in Prescott, AZ to schedule a consultation.

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