What Is Sleep Apnea?
Defined in many medical journals and documents, sleep apnea (or apnea)is always defined as a sleep disorder (somniopathy) and more precisely a sleep disorder in which pauses in breathing or periods of shallow breathing during sleep occur more often than normal (as defined by National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute).
In simple words, we could say that sleep apnea is a type of snoring in which there is a longer pause in the process of breathing, more precisely, inhaling the air. Air inflow is obstructed, partially or fully, by blocking the upper airway.This is known as obstructive sleep apnea and it is the most common type of sleep apnea.
If untreated, this condition is considered dangerous for human health, as it can cause or worsen the existing medical problems(various types of cardiovascular issues, including high blood pressure, heart attack, heart disease, stroke) and can even have lethal consequences(heart failure).
The Three Sleep Apnea Types
As mentioned above, there are 3 main types of sleep apnea. They are divided by what’s causing them.
So we have:
- Obstructive sleep apnea(OSA)–is the most common type which occurs when throat muscles relax and physically block the airways, which further cause the blocking of the airflow
- Central sleep apnea (CSA)– is a neural issue and occurs when the brain fails to send signals to the muscles that control breathing, which cause the breathing process to stop
- Complex sleep apnea– is a combination of the two previously mentioned types and happens when someone has both obstructive and central sleep apnea. Complex sleep apnea is also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea(TESCA).
Although sleep apnea happens occasionally to almost everyone, people with the severe condition should seek medical attention and treatment. As sleepapnea.org (American Sleep Apnea Association) states,with each apnea event, the brain rouses the sleeper, usually only partially, to signal breathing to resume. In those with severe sleep apnea this can happen hundreds of times a night, often most intensely late in the sleep cycle during rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep. As a result, the patient’s sleep is extremely fragmented and of poor quality. Meanwhile, the disorder continuously reduces the oxygenation of the blood, further stressing the sleeper’s physical system.