Sleep Apnea: Understanding Sleep Disorder and Its Health Risk

Sleep apnea is actually a sleeping disorder that is vastly experienced in the United States and other parts of the world. This kind of ailment may be due to varying reasons. It could be due to a block in the air passage or because of a problem with signals sent by the brain. Read more on this here.

Another fact that many are not very aware of is that there are actually several types of sleep apnea, a person could be afflicted with. 

Sleep apnea – the different kinds

Some authors would say that there are 2, while others 4 or more but in reality there are actually 3 main categories of sleep apnea. The different variation of the condition is primarily due to their causes.

Sleep apnea type #1

What is it?

It is said that Obstructive Sleep Apnea or commonly known as  (OSA), occurs when the upper part of the airway gets blocked while the person is asleep. It is because of this situation that people suffering from the said condition often experience heavy snoring. The snoring is the result of air having difficulty flowing in and out of the upper respiratory organs. 

What are the causes?

There are many possible factors that can attribute to sleep apnea, like:

sleep apnea factors
  1. Weight (obesity) –  people who are obese would naturally have fat build ups around their neck and throat. The fatty tissues accumulated around the air passageway can cause the restrictions or blockage in the flow of air.
  2. Age – as people age it happens that the muscles around the throat area, which may then lead to a block.
  3. Enlarged tonsils – these are known to be one of the major causes of obstructive sleep apnea. 
  4. Alcoholism – alcohol gives a lethargic effect on the body. This effect may extend to the muscles on the throat, hence the blockage during sleep.

Sleep apnea type #2

What is it?

Central Sleep Apnea, otherwise known as (CSA) is one where the brain experience lapses in giving signals to the muscles in charged of breathing. If OSA is caused by mechanical issues due to blockage, CSA, on the other hand, is because of a communication problem between the brain and the respiratory organs. This is why you know a person has CSA when he/she experience episodes of failing to breather or erratic breathing when they sleep.

What are the causes?

  • Medical conditions – it is said that there are particular medical conditions that can lead to CSA, like Parkinson’s disease as well as others that affect the brain stem.
  • Medications – we have to really be careful with the medications we take. It is known that certain narcotic painkillers can trigger this sleep disorder. 
  • Heart failure – people that experience heart failure is bound to have an increased lung to chemoreceptor circulatory delay, which is suspected to cause CSA.

Sleep apnea type #3

What is it?

This type is also referred to as Complex Sleep Apnea. The name would probably give you an idea that this type is actually a combination of OSA and CSA. It happens that there are cases when a person originally treated for OSA with the use of a CPA (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine, start to develop symptoms of CSA.

What are the causes?

There are cases when a patient treated diagnosed with OSA, as they undergo CPAP therapy they experience better breathing. CPAP treatment often leads to the patient’s airways getting successfully free from obstruction, however, the patients continue to have difficulty breathing as they sleep. This is now the indicator that the problem has shifted from being OSA to CSA in nature. Often times doctors will recommend sleep gadgets such as anti snoring machines, or more lightly as nose vents nasal dilators.

Health Risks:

According to research, about 4 percent of the men and 2 percent of the women are affected by OSA. In real numbers it 4% translates to about 20 million in the United States. On the other hand the same with OSA it is believed that the majority of those with CSA condition are also men. These results are attributed mainly to the latter’s lifestyle and genetic pattern.

Sleep apnea – do not overlook the signs and symptoms

It is always best to go to a doctor the moment you observe abnormalities when you sleep. Do not take for granted telltale signs like excessive snoring or waking up several times in the night due to difficulty in breathing. Take note of the symptoms that you have or that of your loved ones. Go for a check-up, get a proper diagnosis and do not allow yourself to be part of the 80% that do get treated, don’t forget the sleep apnea is just one of the problem. Always protect your good night sleep, it does wonders for your body and your health.

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