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What Is Sleep Apnea And What Are the Three Types?

sleep apnea

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Apnea is a potentially life-threatening sleep disease characterized by periodic cessations in breathing during sleep. Sleep apnea is a possibility if loud snoring and daytime fatigue persist despite getting enough hours under the covers. Sleep apnea comes in many forms, and understanding those forms can help a person figure out what’s causing their symptoms and get the help they need. Several health problems, including diabetes type 2, elevated blood pressure, cardiac arrest, and stroke, are exacerbated by sleep apnea because of the inflammation it causes in the body. In this article you will find ways of treating sleep apnea and the three types of sleep apnea.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the most prevalent type of sleep apnea. Caused by a physical blockage in the oral cavity or pharynx, this condition is highly unpleasant. Sometimes it’s tough to breathe because the tongue has fallen against the soft palate while sleeping, and the roof of the mouth and uvula have followed suit by falling against the throat.

The tongue and soft palate rattling during sleep apnea can cause snoring. One of the other symptoms is waking up feeling like they have no air to breathe. The lungs function correctly, and the body continues to try to live even with OSA; nevertheless, the condition prevents adequate air from entering the upper airway.

OSA becomes increasingly common with age, and is more common in men. It also affects those who are overweight, those who are pregnant, and those who rest on their backs. The following are examples of symptoms:

  • Getting up in the middle of the night or feeling extremely tired during the day
  • Fear upon arousal from sleep
  • Sleep-related snoring and gasping for breath
  • Chronic headaches
  • Dry mouth upon waking
  • Struggle to focus on job or school due to mental fogginess

Treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Fixing the blockage that causes the airway to become blocked is essential for treating this type of sleep apnea. Just switching your sleeping posture can help sometimes. Some patients get relief after making lifestyle changes, including dropping excess weight, giving up cigarettes, or increasing their level of physical activity.

Some possible medical therapies are:

To maintain an open airway, a CPAP machine continually pushes air down the throat through a mask placed above the nostrils (or the nostrils and mouth). Pressuring the upper airway and “stenting” it open helps an individual breathe as they sleep.

Surgical procedures can correct the anatomy of the mouth and the upper airway by eliminating redundant tissue or redesigning the airway.

Devices worn in the mouth can assist in maintaining the airway clear by restraining the tongue from sliding back against the soft palate.


If daytime sleepiness persists despite appropriate treatment, particular drugs may be helpful, but they do not treat sleep apnea. For instance, the FDA authorizes the medicine modafinil for CPAP users who nevertheless experience excessive sleepiness.

Central Sleep Apnea

While upper airway obstruction is the cause of obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea also results in interrupted breathing during the night. The underlying neurological issue is the real culprit for a Florida neurologist and sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea differs from OSA in that the body makes no effort to breathe during sleep; hence, snoring is not a symptom. Instead, the individual stops breathing because the brain and neurological system are not reliably sending a signal to breathe.

Although some people may experience no symptoms at all, others might experience:

  • Insomnia
  • Awakening short of breath or anxious
  • Drowsiness or inability to focus during the day
  • Possible causes might be something like:
  • Substance abuse, typically tranquillizing medicines like opiates
  • Sleeplessness
  • Cardiac enlargement, or congestive heart failure

In some instances, however, the cause of central sleep apnea cannot be determined (idiopathic).
Cheyne-Stokes breathing (also known as “hyperventilating and not breathing”) is a breathing rhythm that can occur in people with central sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea is something that can happen with cardiovascular disease.

Treatment for Central Sleep Apnea

It is crucial if central sleep apnea can be resolved by treating its underlying cause. However, it is not a guarantee that the problem will be solved. Some people with central sleep apnea find relief with CPAP equipment; others may require more advanced settings of positive airway pressure. Treatment options are helpful, including bilevel positive pressure ventilation and adaptive servo-ventilation. When a person’s breathing stops, these machines give them breath.

Complex Sleep Apnea

The presence of one form of sleep apnea doesn’t entirely rule out the possibility of another. A diagnosis known as complex sleep apnea is diagnosed often in patients with both OSA and central sleep apnea. An early sleep study may already be able to diagnose complicated sleep apnea syndrome. Sometimes this is discovered when the apnea doesn’t improve with a CPAP device or other conventional OSA therapy.

Symptoms include those seen with obstructive sleep apnea, such as:

  • Sporadic, short awakenings
  • Tiredness during the day
  • Difficulty arising upon awakening
  • Dry mouth or headaches
  • Insomnia, or Sleeplessness/Lack of Quality Sleep

Treatment for Complex Sleep Apnea

When treating complicated sleep apnea syndrome, it may be necessary to use a variety of therapies, such as CPAP, in addition to treating any underlying problems.

Contact us at Jeff Steinberg MD

The quality of life of a person is negatively impacted by sleep apnea, and the condition is associated with an increased risk of death from various causes. The appropriate treatment can improve sleep quality and lessen the likelihood of developing long-term health issues. A Florida neurologist can recommend a sleep study for those who experience daytime fatigue or frequent waking at night.

Please book an appointment with your Neurologist Fort Lauderdale to address sleep apnea in your family.  If you experience any sleep apnea symptoms, our medical team will guide your sleep apnea treatment protocol.