Sleep Apnea Information

There are three basic classifications of sleep apnea – central, obstructive and mixed.

Central Apnea
Airflow stops because breathing efforts temporarily cease. The airway stays open but the chest wall muscles make no effort to create airflow. The cause is usually neurological in origin.

Obstructive Apnea
Air flow stops because of an airway obstruction, in spite of persistent effort to breathe by the chest wall muscles. The obstruction can be in any of three areas – the nasopharynx (nose), oropharynx (upper throat), and/or the hypopharynx (lower throat).

Mixed Apnea
Mixed apnea is a combination of central and obstructive apnea, usually beginning with a central episode being followed by an obstructive one.

Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS) lies somewhere between benign snoring and true obstructive sleep apnea. People with upper airway resistance syndrome suffer many of the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea but sleep testing will be negative for sleep apnea.

People who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea frequently complain of daytime sleepiness, which can cause difficulty staying awake during meetings or conversation, or while reading, watching television, or driving. Daytime sleepiness can also impair the ability to concentrate, both at work and at home. Most people do not associate sleep apnea with daytime sleepiness.

Sleep apnea is a health problem that can be associated with high blood pressure, heart problems, and stroke.

The following are some of the signs and symptoms that are indicative of a person who is suffering from sleep apnea:

  • heavy snoring
  • gasping or choking during the night
  • excessive day time sleepiness
  • frequent arousals (awakenings) during sleep (sleep fragmentation)
  • non refreshed sleep
  • restless sleep
  • morning headaches
  • Bruxism (teeth grinding)
  • high blood pressure
  • heart arrhythmias
  • conjestive heart failure
  • diabetes
  • personality changes such as becoming irritable or temperamental
  • severe anxiety or depression
  • poor job performance
  • clouded memory
  • intellectual deterioration
  • occupational accidents
  • decreased sex drive

It is important to see your physician or a sleep disorders specialist if you are experiencing snoring and daytime sleepiness, and some of the above signs and symptoms.