Sleep apnea is a condition in which a patient stops breathing while they're asleep. This interruption in breathing is sporadic, but it can be very damaging to the whole body if it's not diagnosed and treated promptly.
There are 3 kinds of sleep apnea. These include:
The most commonly occurring kind of sleep apnea. A patient with obstructive sleep apnea will repeatedly stop breathing while they're asleep. This happens because the upper airway (the throat) temporarily collapses or is blocked by the tongue.
A rare type of sleep apnea that's neurological in origin. In central sleep apnea, the part of the brain that controls breathing may temporarily shut down. The body then startles awake due to automatic breathing reflex before falling back into sleep. As with obstructive sleep apnea, this process repeats itself throughout the night.
A combination of obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. Patients who have mixed sleep apnea usually have central sleep apnea first, and it then transitions into obstructive sleep apnea.
The symptoms of sleep apnea are the same, regardless of which type of sleep apnea it may be. However, treatment must be customized according to the specific type of sleep apnea.
The treatment for sleep apnea depends on the kind of sleep apnea that you're suffering from. In the most common kind of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea, Dr. Berger may recommend continuous positive airway pressure device (CPAP) use. A CPAP device includes a mask that you attach to the mouth and the nose. It sends air through the airway while you're sleeping, which prevents the air blockage and allows you to get restful sleep.
In the case of central sleep apnea or mixed sleep apnea, a patient may need to address neurological issues before the sleep apnea can be stopped. Dr. Berger may recommend specific tests to determine the origin of the central or mixed sleep apnea, or he may refer patients to a neurologist or sleep medicine specialist.
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