Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when breathing is disrupted while a person is asleep. People who allow sleep apnea to be left untreated stop breathing frequently during their sleep which put them at serious risk as it causes the brain, as well as the rest of the body to be deprived of oxygen.
Sleep apnea can occur to a lot of people and in most cases, it affects men, obese people, and people over the age of 40. When not treated, a person with sleep apnea is at risk of hypertension, stroke, and even heart failure.
Two Types of Sleep Apnea:
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea or OSA is the more common type of apnea. This condition occurs when airway is obstructed, which is usually the case when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses while a person is sleeping.
What Causes Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
During sleep, the muscles throughout the body relax including the airway muscles. In normal conditions, muscle relaxation should not prevent airway from staying open. However for people with obstructive sleep apnea, muscle relaxation causes the airway to close or collapse.
Collapsed airway reduces airflow and causes choking. Once it happens, the brain is awakened to turn the airway muscles on and bring airflow back to normal to put an end to the distress.
Usually, people with obstructive sleep apnea are not aware of their breathing problem because after the brain is awakened due to collapsed airway, the brain also falls right back to sleep almost instantly that the episode is not formed in the person’s memory.
Central Sleep Apnea
The second type of sleep apnea is called the Central Sleep Apnea but unlike in the case of a person with obstructive sleep apnea, this condition does not occur because of blocked airway. Central sleep apnea is a disorder that happens when the brain periodically fails to signal the muscles to breathe because of unstable conditions in the respiratory control center.
What Causes Central Sleep Apnea?
The most common cause of central sleep apnea is heart failure. Statistics suggest that approximately 40% to 60% of persons suffering from heart failure also have central sleep apnea.
Another known cause of central sleep apnea is brain damage. The brain is the one in control of a person’s breathing patterns so damage to this sensitive area of the body may result in central sleep apnea. Brain damage is the simplest cause of sleep apnea that is easy to understand, but unlike heart failure, central sleep apnea due to damage to the brain occurs far less often.