Sleep Apnea Definition – 3 Types of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by the stoppage of breathing while sleeping from 10 to 60 seconds and gasping for breath or snorting or snoring when breathing is resumed.
There are three types of sleep apnea.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Central Sleep Apnea, and
Complex Sleep Apnea.
Each are caused by different factors but can lead to serious complications up to and including death.
Obstructive sleep apnea is characterized by the tongue and muscles of the throat relaxing to the point of blocking the airway during sleep possibly caused by obesity. Men over the age of 40 who are considered overweight or obese are the most affected by this type of sleep apnea. This is not to say that women cannot also be afflicted with the same disorder it is just more prevalent in men.
Central sleep apnea is characterized by a defect in the respiratory center in the brain being unable to transmit the correct signals to the muscles responsible for breathing to initiate a breath.
Some people can suffer from a combination of these two types and this is called Complex Sleep Apnea. Anyone of any age can be affected by sleep apnea, even children. Premature babies are most likely to be subject to sleep apnea because their lung function is impaired due to being premature.
The premature infant is usually sent home with a device called an apnea monitor and is kept on the monitor until approximately two weeks after true gestational age is reached and their doctor deems it safe for them to be removed from monitoring.
If you suspect your spouse has sleep apnea, watch them for a few nights in a row and record what you observe. Snoring is not always caused by sleep apnea but can be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea and that if it gets worse or is loud enough to wake the dead, you should consult your doctor about.
Typical sufferers of sleep apnea actually stop breathing frequently throughout the night with as many as 30 episodes or more with gasps or snorts heard when breathing resumes. Keep an ear open to how many times this happens during a one hour period and also if the way they are breathing wakes them up frequently. Night sweats are a frequent occurrence with people with sleep apnea, especially complex sleep apnea.
Also as a part of your record, note how your spouse feels during the day. Are they tired, irritable, impatient, feel depressed or have frequent mood swings during the day? Do they wake with a headache or dry, sore throat? If they do this probably means they are not getting good rest during the night and should see their doctor to talk about sleep apnea and possibly enter into a sleep study to confirm or rule out sleep apnea.
Treatment for sleep apnea may include a CPAP machine that you wear at night, a mouth guard, or in the most severe cases of obstructive sleep apnea, surgery may be needed. Talk to your doctor about your sleep apnea definition to find out what your best option is.