Sleep apnea is a common condition that afflicts many patients. Sleep apnea occurs when a patient stops breathing for intermittent periods while sleeping. This condition is commonly diagnosed using a combination of clinical symptoms and laboratory studies. Many patients report excessive daytime fatigue to their physicians and are then sent for a formal sleep study or polysomnography. Polysomnographies help to quantify the number and severity of apneic events during a single night. Though they are diagnosed in a similar way, there are multiple forms of sleep apnea that may afflict a patient. These types include:
- Mixed or complex sleep apnea.
The most commonly diagnosed type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the upper airways including the trachea collapse when the patient is asleep. Mild cases of obstructive sleep apnea can occur due to upper respiratory infections such as the common cold. More severe forms of obstructive sleep apnea can be chronic and require treatment with sleep apnea supplies. Patients with decreased muscle tone and increased soft fatty tissue around their airways can be at risk for narrowed airways and obstructive sleep apnea. This type of sleep apnea is more common among the elderly and men. The frequency of treatment for obstructive sleep apnea with sleep apnea supplies increases with obesity, smoking, diabetes and age. Symptoms associated with obstructive sleep apnea can include loud snoring, restless sleep and fatigue during the day. The loudness of snoring episodes does not correlate with severity of this disease. In fact, if the obstruction of the airway is severe enough there may not be enough movement of air in the passageway to produce any sound.
Central sleep apnea, also called Cheyne-Stokes respiration, is another type of sleep apnea. The respiratory control centers in the brain are unbalanced in patients with this type of sleep apnea. Normally, blood carbon dioxide concentrations provide feedback to the brain causing fluctuating respiratory patterns while patients sleeping to keep oxygen levels at an acceptable level. In central sleep apnea, this monitoring system does not respond quickly enough to high carbon dioxide levels and patients stops breathing then starts again. During periods lacking breathing, patients are completely unaware they are not breathing and make no effort to regain respiration. Consequences of prolonged reduced oxygen blood levels can include brain damage in the most extreme situations. Usually, the effects of central sleep apnea are milder and present chronically rather than acute brain damage.
Mixed or complex sleep apnea is a combination of both types of sleep apnea described above. Long term obstructive sleep apnea that goes untreated without sleep apnea supplies can lead to the development of central sleep apnea. Patients with complex sleep apnea have signs of obstructive sleep apnea such as loud snoring and restless sleeping but do not respond to treatment with sleep apnea supplies. Central apnea is still noted even though the obstructive component of sleep apnea has been removed.
Many treatment options are available for the different types of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea supplies such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) can help avoid serious complications associated with obstructive sleep apnea such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes. Treatments can also prevent loud snoring that can contribute to restless nights. Some side effects of central sleep apnea include seizures, coronary artery disease, arrhythmias, heart attacks and metabolic acidosis. Many of the long term side effects from this type of sleep apnea can be prevented using sleep apnea supplies. CPAP and adaptive servo-ventilation therapy has been used to manage complex sleep apnea.
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