Sleep Apnea is one of the most undiagnosed health conditions, affecting more than 18 million Americans (6.2% of total population). The difficulty in diagnosing sleep apnea is that it occurs during sleep, making the person unaware that the condition exists. Often, it is their bed partner who notices the symptoms and encourages the person seek medical advise.
There are three major types of Sleep Apnea: obstructive, central and mixed.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
is most common types affecting nearly 70% of all patients diagnosed with this condition. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs because the breathing muscles are able to receive the brain signals but are unable to function because of a blockage or collapse in the upper airway tract.
Signs of obstructive sleep apnea that you might notice during the day include:
- Excessive sleepiness during the day. This symptom will help you to determine if you simply have a snoring problem, or if you have sleep apnea. Snoring will not cause you to be excessively tired during the day, because it does not interfere with the quality of your sleep. Sleep apnea does worsen the quality of your sleep because oxygen is prevented from entering your body while asleep resulting in sleepiness during the day.
- Rapid and irrational weight gain.
- Sore throat and dry mouth on waking.
- Headaches in the morning.
- Drowsiness, irritability, and mood disorders including depression.
- Problems with concentration.
- Tendency to take short and frequent daytime naps.
- Poor memory.
Obstructive sleep apnea symptoms that might be noticed by your bed partner at night include:
- Loud and persistent snoring that does not respond to any usual snoring remedy.
- Restlessness during sleep; frequent tossing and turning in bed
- Intermittent periods of silence between snoring. During such periods of silence, it appears that you have stopped breathing.
- Periodic choking and gasps for air during sleep.
Central Sleep Apnea
is usually the result of a pre-existing health disorders, and happens when the brain is incapable of sending out any signal. Without the brain signal there is no breathing effort by the muscles.
Many of the signs of this type of sleep disorder are linked to the current health condition of an individual. Illnesses that may lead to this kind of apnea include:
- Bulbar poliomyelitis
- Complications arising from cervical spine surgery
- Encephalitis involving the brainstem
- Neurodegenerative conditions like Parkinson’s disease
- Radiation of the cervical spine
The symptoms of central sleep apnea are similar to obstructive apnea: excessive tiredness and fatigue during the day; headaches; and restlessness during sleep.
Mixed Sleep Apnea is a combination of both obstructive and central types of apnea and is very rare.