Sleep Apnea Types

Sleep apnea is defined by waking up multiple times in your sleep, even if you are not aware that you are waking up because you stopped breathing. At the Center for Cosmetic Dentistry we take sleep apnea very seriously when we meet a patient who has it, as the sooner you are treated, the better your outcome will be.

Man with sleep apnea snores while sleeping and disturbs partner's ability to sleep.
Snoring man with sleep apnea

The Three Main Types of Sleep Apnea

There are three main types of sleep apnea. The most common type is called obstructive sleep apnea, and it accounts for most of all cases of sleep apnea. This sleep apnea also affects up to 4 percent of all men and 2 percent of all women. When a person has obstructive sleep apnea, their throat closes off due to the muscles in the rear of a persons throat relaxing. When these muscles relax, air is unable to get into the lungs of the person who has this condition.

The body responds to this oxygen deprivation by waking the person up. In more milder cases of obstructive sleep apnea, the sufferer may wake up five times per hour. In more severe cases, it can be as high as 30 or more instances.

Central sleep apnea is far less common than obstructive sleep apnea. Unlike obstructive sleep apnea, it does not occur due to the airways becoming closed off. Instead, communication between your brain and your breathing muscles are interrupted. This causes the person who has this type of sleep apnea to stop breathing. They are suddenly awakened when the body jolts the sufferer awake. Less than 20 percent of all cases of sleep apnea is central sleep apnea. Lastly, the least common and rarest classification of sleep apnea is referred to as complex sleep apnea syndrome. This type of sleep apnea combines both obstructive and central sleep apnea. The person who has complex sleep apnea syndrome will stop breathing several times per night, and it may be caused by either the throat muscles relaxing or the breathing muscles not working properly.

Common Risk Factors

Risk factors for sleep apnea can vary. Obstructive sleep apnea is more common in older people, men, and people who are overweight. A thicker neck and narrower airway can also cause it, as can genetics. Certain medications can also lead to obstructive sleep apnea, as can use of tobacco products and alcohol. Central sleep apnea is often caused by being an older person, being a male, and certain medications (such as narcotics). Congestive heart failure and stroke can also cause it.

Sleep apnea can be quite dangerous. Common complications that can arise due to it include daytime sleepiness, mood changes, and irritability, and relationship problems. It can also lead to diabetes, heart attack, and death.

To learn more about sleep apnea, or to schedule an appointment with us here at the Center for Cosmetic Dentistry for a consultation to determine if you may have this condition, please give us a call at 631-982-9669 today!