Understanding Sleep Apnea is the first step to arming yourself against a multitude of life-threatening health complications. This blog will help you understand the different kinds of sleep apnea and what causes them.

If you wake up multiple times in the night, for no clear reason, you should consider meeting a sleep expert! Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that causes breathing to repeatedly stop and start because of different reasons. These reasons are used to classify sleep apnea into three types: Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Central Sleep Apnea, and Complex Sleep Apnea.

Approximately 84% of sleep apnea patients have Obstructive Sleep Apnea, 1% have Central Sleep Apnea, and 15% have Complex Sleep Apnea. Let us take a brief look at what these three different kinds of sleep apnea mean.

1. OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNEA (OSA)

OSA is a mechanical problem where the airway is partially or completely blocked during sleep, due to an obstruction in the throat. With obstructive sleep apnea, you stop breathing repeatedly during sleep, until the brain wakes you up enough to resume breathing. This can happen hundreds of times a night. 

Consequences & Treatment: These constant interruptions lead to restless sleep and several serious health complications in the long run, like cardiovascular diseases, hypersomnia (extreme daytime sleepiness), etc. Obstructive sleep apnea can be treated by losing weight, with oral appliances like the CPAP, and jaw re-adjustment surgery.

2. CENTRAL SLEEP APNEA (CSA)

CSA is a rare occurrence and is typically caused by severe illnesses, especially the ones that affect the lower part of the brain stem, called the medulla oblongata (the one responsible for controlling breathing muscles). With central sleep apnea, the brain momentarily stops telling the muscles to breathe. There is no obstruction in the upper airway, just a malfunction in the brain that causes you to stop breathing, forcing the heart to pump faster to compensate for the lack of oxygen in the blood. 

Consequences & Treatment: Central sleep apnea is associated with severe obesity, strokes, Parkinson’s disease, and chronic heart failure. Unlike OSA, central sleep apnea is a neurological problem and can only be solved by addressing the illness damaging the lower brain stem. 

The most obvious symptom of sleep apnea is excessive daytime sleepiness

3. COMPLEX SLEEP APNEA

Approximately 15% of all sleep apnea cases are a combination of both OSA and CSA, called Complex Sleep Apnea. This means there is an obstruction in the upper airway in the throat along with impaired functioning of the lower brain stem. People with complex sleep apnea first appear to have obstructive sleep apnea, but their symptoms don’t improve from OSA treatment alone. Only a polysomnography test, conducted overnight by a sleep expert, can determine if the sleep apnea is complex.

Consequences & Treatment: Complex sleep apnea carries with it the risks of both OSA & CSA and needs to be treated for both the conditions.

 

Dozee monitors your sleep details and vitals every night. It records the number of awakenings, snoring intensity, the restfulness of your sleep, and several other factors throughout the night and flags any possibility of sleep apnea. With Dozee, you also get a comprehensive Sleep Apnea report that tells you the severity of sleep apnea, if any.

Now that you have a brief understanding of the types of sleep apnea, we will delve deep into the most prevalent type of sleep apnea next week – Obstructive Sleep Apnea.