Types of Sleep Apneas
There are two primary types of sleep apnea and one combination.
1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA, upper airway apnea)
OSA involves some kind of obstruction in the airway. In OSA, air stops flowing through the nose and mouth, but throat and abdominal breathing efforts are uninterrupted. The snoring that results is produced when the upper rear of the mouth (the soft palate and the cone-shaped tissue--the uvula--that descends from it) relaxes and vibrates as air passes in and out. This sets up an air current between the palate and the base of the tongue, resulting in snoring. Typically, the individual will wake up, emit a vigorous snort or grunt while gasping for air, then immediately fall back to sleep, only to repeat the cycle.
This condition is less common than OSA. It involves a problem in the nerve pathways that stimulate and control breathing. Here, both oral breathing and throat and abdominal breathing efforts are simultaneously interrupted. People with central sleep apnea may cease to breathe for periods of a few seconds, or their breathing may be too shallow or infrequent to provide sufficient oxygen to blood and tissues.
3. Mixed Apnea
In mixed apnea, a brief period of central apnea is followed by a longer period of obstructive apnea.
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