If you are experiencing brief pauses in your breathing pattern, and hence wish to know what is apnea, the following section will help guide you to understand this sleep disorder and its various types. Sleep apnea can in fact be quite detrimental to your health, as it might lead to long pauses in breathing while you are asleep which can be quite dangerous. Hence to be able to deal with this disorder, it is important to understand what is apnea.
The literal translation of the word ‘Apnea’ is being ‘without wind’. You probably must be wondering that brief pauses in breathing are quite common so what really is apnea? Yes, its very normal to have occasional pauses in breathing, but those suffering from apnea can have pauses that are even longer than 20 seconds, which can be dangerous!
To understand what is apnea it is essential to understand the types of apnea. There are three types of apnea, which are explained in detail below:
WHAT IS APNEA – OBSTRUCTIVE APNEA
This type of apnea is the most prevalent type, and is quite common in both children and adults. If a patient suffers from obstructive apnea, it basically means that there is some physical obstruction hindering the free airflow, and hence leading to pauses in the breathing process. This apnea is at its peak while one is asleep as that is when the tissues towards the back of the throat muscles are relaxed.
Some of the common symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include loud snoring combined with frequent gasping that wakes you up several times in the night. Tight feeling in the chest, and constant difficulty in breathing is also a common sign. Also, paleness in the skin colour due to lack of oxygen in the blood is another sign of obstructive apnea. Once you have understood what is obstructive apnea, it will be easier to treat the disorder. Usually obstructive apnea is treated with the help of the continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, machine!
WHAT IS APNEA – CENTRAL APNEA
While obstructive apnea is the result of a physical problem, central apnea is a neurological issue. It occurs when the part of the nervous system that controls breathing fails to send appropriate signals to the muscles to breathe. Usually when continuously monitoring the carbon dioxide level, the brain fails to keep track of the oxygen level and hence does not send the breathing signal. This disorder is also common in premature infants as the brain isn’t developed enough to be capable of monitoring the breathing process. Hence an experts help and advice is vital to be able to treat this type of apnea.
WHAT IS APNEA – COMPLEX/MIXED APNEA
In recent times doctors have found that there are certain apnea patients who don’t completely fall under either one of the above two types of apnea categories mentioned, but have characteristics of both! These patients come under the category of complex/mixed sleep apnea. Since CPAP wont be an adequate