Sleep Apnea is a medical condition that causes the body to experience disruption to breathing during sleep. Although cases can range from mild to severe, potential complications and health issues may arise depending on a patient’s general health. This is why understanding the type of apnea you have is important to determine the most appropriate treatment method and successfully manage the condition to relieve symptoms. In some cases, dentistry can play a role in providing solutions for sleep apnea. It’s essential to consult with a dentist who specializes in sleep disorders. Scheduling a dental appointment can be the first step in exploring potential treatments that can complement traditional medical approaches.

There are Three Different Types of Sleep Apnea

Until recently, medical science, along with advances in dentistry, only formally recognized two types of sleep apnea, the most common, Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and Central Sleep Apnea (CSA). Many patients will be diagnosed with OSA, which affects around 30 million people in the US alone. Some patients in rare cases may also present with both, leading to the third type of apnea to be considered in the diagnosis process, known as Complex Sleep Apnea. Understanding the type of apnea a patient is presenting with should always be the first step for managing a sleep disorder; this will help decide on the optimum treatment. Dental services have become instrumental in offering solutions for sleep disorders, and often a dentist might recommend treatments like cpap as part of a comprehensive treatment approach.

Three Facts About the Three Diagnosed Apnea Conditions

Similar symptoms characterize each of the three apnea types, but the underlying causes and responses to dental treatment can differ. Specialized medical screening and diagnostics can be undertaken at dedicated sleep clinics or hospital settings to confirm a suspected case of apnea and which type of condition a patient suffers from. Like treatment options, some testing approaches are only suitable for specific types of apnea, meaning diagnostic approaches can differ depending on the type of apnea and how it affects certain areas of the body. Many patients seeking guidance on sleep apnea also consult with a dentist, as dental services have been known to offer solutions that complement traditional methods like cpap. Remember, while undergoing these assessments, it’s essential to wear your smile confidently and know there are various avenues for assistance.

Don’t Worry If You Don’t Know What Type of Apnea You Have Yet!

It is unlikely in the early stages of the dentistry investigation process, a patient will be aware of what type of apnea they may have. This is why sleep clinics, often associated with dental services, initially focus on whether there is a suspected case of apnea and what investigations should occur for the most accurate diagnosis. If you’re currently undergoing screening or taking the first steps toward apnea testing with a dentist, it’s essential to wear your smile confidently. Here are three important facts about the three different types of apnea! A treatment like cpap is common for addressing some of these conditions, but always consult with professionals in the field of dentistry for tailored advice.

THE MOST COMMON TYPE OF APNEA: Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

FACT ONE: Obstructive Sleep Apnea Occurs When Soft Tissues Obstruct the Airway…

…and block or restrict the movement of airflow to your lungs. OSA is the most common type of apnea diagnosed, with 1 in 5 adults experiencing mild symptoms of the condition and 1 in 15 presenting with moderate to severe symptoms, according to the National Library of Medicine.

FACT TWO: OSA is Frequently Linked To Lifestyle Choices

For the majority of patients, a sleep apnea condition can be rooted in three primary causes: lifestyle choices, aging, and gender. Lifestyle choices include:

  • Smoking.
  • Medication use (even when directed by a doctor).
  • Weight gain.
  • Drinking and sleeping positions.
  • Many other factors.

Fortunately for many patients, holistic and alternative therapies such as weight loss, diet changes, and positional therapy can relieve symptoms, especially when paired with other apnea treatments. Additionally, OSA caused by hereditary factors, like aging, airways abnormalities (birth defects or injury, for example), or other medical complications may also benefit from holistic and alternative treatments.

FACT THREE: Even Mild Cases of OSA Can Cause Debilitating Symptoms

Living with obstructive sleep apnea can be a struggle for many patients. The side effects of low oxygen levels in the blood and sleep deprivation due to repeated awakenings may result in debilitating symptoms, affecting daily life, relationships, and overall health. Poor sleep and low oxygen are a bad mix, and when the body is deprived of both, fatigue, headaches, and confusion usually follow shortly after. This means that even the milder apnea cases can struggle with lingering daytime symptoms, including low mood, dry mouth or throat, and irritability. Snoring complaints are also frequently raised by equally tired and frustrated partners or those sharing bedrooms with apnea sufferers.

Central Sleep Apnea

FACT ONE: Central Sleep Apnea Starts in the Brain

Unlike OSA, which starts from airway obstruction, the science behind CSA begins in the brain! With Central Sleep Apnea cases (CSA), the neurological pathways that instruct the diaphragm to work with the lungs and muscles in the chest (which allow a patient to inhale and exhale normally) forget to tell the body to breathe! The differences between OSA and CSA confuse many people, as the problem starts in the brain rather than a physical obstruction in the respiratory system. This means CSA cases rarely present with snoring unless they are suffering from Complex Sleep Apnea that contains both elements of the OSA and CSA. In the realm of dentistry, while OSA may often be addressed with dental devices, CSA typically requires a different approach. Nonetheless, it’s advisable to make a dentist appointment if one suspects any sleep-related issues, as a dentist can offer insights and potential solutions in the broader context of oral health.

FACT TWO: A CSA Episode Might Not Wake You Up

Like obstructive sleep apnea episodes, patients diagnosed with CSA may experience prolonged episodes of disrupted breathing, resulting in a range of lingering daytime symptoms. However, unlike OSA patients who frequently awaken during the night due to low oxygen levels, CSA episodes may not wake a person at all. Breathing, in these instances, resumes normally when the body enters a state of recovery, which it will stay in until the blood’s oxygen levels stabilize. Interestingly, some patients with CSA have been reported to never stop breathing at all, and instead experience shallow cycles of breathing, followed by exaggerated breaths, known medically as Cheyne-Stokes respiration.

FACT THREE: Other Medical Conditions Are The Culprit For Many CSA Cases

Central Sleep Apnea Cases are frequently linked to pre-existing medical conditions, injury, and even certain types of medications. This means unlike OSA; there is a potential to eradicate CSA if the primary medical complication is resolved. Links to Central Sleep Apnea diagnosis have been found with specific spinal or brain stem injuries, degenerative diseases, chronic kidney or heart failure, and medications such as Xanax and Oxycontin. Unfortunately, some patients also develop CSA due to the natural process of aging, where the brain begins to lose its ability to regulate systems in the body. While the realm of dentistry primarily addresses oral health, it’s crucial to note that some sleep-related issues may also benefit from a dental perspective. Therefore, if one suspects any sleep-related challenges, making a dentist appointment can be a good starting point. Some dentist professionals, keeping up with the broader spectrum of health issues, can provide insights or referrals to specialists in sleep disorders.

Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome

FACT THREE: Only 15% of Cases Present With Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome

In rare cases, a patient may present with both symptoms of OSA and CSA at the same time. These diagnoses are harder to spot in patients and can commonly be reported at first as OSA until further investigation is warranted. This is usually after standard treatments that target the airway obstruction have not been responsive, such as CPAP therapies. A dental device may sometimes be suggested as an alternative or complementary solution for certain patients. Cases of Complex Sleep Apnea are so infrequent that it has only been recognized formally as a separate form of apnea in recent medical developments and was previously classified as either OSA or CSA. As we continue to delve into the complexities of sleep disorders, it’s essential to meet with professionals equipped with the latest knowledge, including those specializing in dental implants, to discuss the most appropriate interventions.

FACT TWO: Complex Sleep Apnea Can Only Be Diagnosed in a Lab-Based Sleep Study

Unlike OSA which can be diagnosed through home testing, patients living with CSA and Complex Apnea can only screened formally for these conditions in an overnight hospital or lab study with the correct conditions and equipment. Facilities will often use technology to monitor brain activity linked to central apnea cases, with an overnight team assigned to support the study.

FACT THREE: Treatment For Complex Sleep Apnea Is Still Being Researched

For those presenting with different types of sleep apnea, including both OSA and CSA, treatment currently involves incorporating therapies that address both conditions, such as lifestyle changes, CPAP therapy, and medical interventions that resolve primary conditions triggering apnea episodes. However, due to the relatively new findings into Complex Sleep Apnea and various sleep apnea types, further research and study in the field of dentistry are still required to define the condition and confirm the most effective treatments. Dental treatment options, in particular, have been gaining traction as potential services for sleep apnea management. Therefore, at this time, there is no definitive treatment for patients suffering from Complex Sleep Apnea, but with the continuous advancements in dentistry and other related fields, hope is on the horizon.

Contact Sleep Cycle Centers For Apena Reliable Diagnosis and Treatment

The Sleep Cycle Center is proud to offer different types of sleep apnea screening and testing for patients in the Texas areas of Lakeway and Austin. If you or your doctor are concerned about a potential apnea condition, we can support you with patient resources in your first steps of the assessment process, with comfortable sleep studies and treatment methods available to those diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea and other sleep apnea types.

Apnea caused by various reasons can be accurately diagnosed with our advanced apnea virtual and imaging digital tools. Follow the link to get started with our free assessment forms, with over 90% success rate at identifying individuals who have sleep apnea within 48 hours. If you find yourself constantly awakened by your own snore device or that of a loved one, it might be time to reach out. Call our team to find out more.