What are Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Central Sleep Apnea?

Some couples deal with snoring in their own way — using snore prevention aids created to lessen or stop what causes their snoring, and the extreme measure of sleeping in separate rooms. Doing one or more of these things solves the problem of hearing the snoring, but what about solving the underlying problem that causes the issue?

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of apnea. This condition is caused by a collapsed or blocked airway while sleeping. This blockage can cause shallow breathing and even pauses in breathing which is the main characteristic of apnea. When this blockage occurs, any air that is able to get past the blockage may cause the snoring. This doesn’t mean that everyone who snores has obstructive sleep apnea. Dental snore appliances can be effective in preventing this type of apnea and snoring.

There are several risk factors that are associated with people who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. They include having a large neck or collar size larger than 17 inches in men or 16 inches in women; being overweight; and having high blood pressure. Also having a large tongue that falls back into your airway, and lying on your back while sleeping are other common causes for obstructive sleep apnea. You see, when you sleep all your muscles become relaxed. This includes the muscles that keep your airway open to allow airflow into your lungs. The above factors increase the potential for the airway to become obstructed.

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Another type of sleep apnea is called central sleep apnea. Unlike obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea is a condition where the area of your brain that controls your breathing isn’t sending the right signals to the muscles responsible for breathing. This means that you aren’t breathing due to your brain messing up important signals. This condition can happen to anyone but it is more common in people who use certain types of medications or have certain medical conditions.

It is also common for central sleep apnea to happen to people who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea though snoring isn’t typical in people who do suffer from central sleep apnea. People with brainstem injuries or diseases, often suffer from problems with normal breathing during sleep and even when they are awake. Some typical illnesses that can cause central sleep apnea are degenerative diseases affecting the cervical spine or brain, severe obesity, stroke and pain relievers that contain narcotics.

It is also linked with people who suffer from congestive heart failure. So whether someone is suffering from obstructive sleep apnea or central sleep apnea, getting proper medical attention is very important in order to ensure that breathing goes uninterrupted while sleeping which can cause irritability, day time sleepiness, and in severe cases, death.

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