Sleep Apnea

What Causes Different Types of Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea can cause a person to stop breathing for ten seconds or more while sleeping. This issue interrupts the sleep cycle because the person is awakened from sleep to get the body to breathe again. Though it is a common sleep disorder, it increases the risk of heart attack, stroke and other health conditions. The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea, which occurs due to blockage of the airway during sleep. The potential sign of obstructive sleep apnea is loud and disruptive snoring. Rely on Dr. Caroline Krivuzoff-Sanderson for sleep apnea screening and testing services. Along with sleep apnea treatment, we also provide dental services ranging from preventive, cosmetic to sedation dentistry.


Types of Sleep Apnea and Their Causes

There are mainly three types of sleep apnea called obstructive sleep apnea, central and mixed sleep apnea. Have a look at common causes that can develop sleep apnea:


1.      Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

OSA is the most common form of sleep apnea. During the REM cycle, people with OSA have difficulty breathing due to airway obstruction as the tongue falls back in the throat. Due to the blockage, the brain signals the body to wake up and take a breath. This pattern can be repeated multiple times in an hour when you sleep. Though you won’t remember waking up each night due to OSA, the brain usually awakens you from deep to more shallow sleep. You might make a choking or gasping sound when your brain awakens you. Deep sleep is essential for you to be fully rested. OSA is more common in men as compared to women. Some causes and risk factors for OSA are:

  • Excess Weight: People with excess weight are most likely to have sleep apnea as fat deposits around the neck and throat can obstruct breathing. However, not all people with obstructive sleep apnea are overweight
  • Health Issues: OSA is most common in people with high blood pressure, diabetes and chronic nasal congestion. In children, enlarged tonsils can lead to OSA
  • Family History: You are more at risk if any of your family members have OSA
  • Smoking and Alcohol Use: People who frequently smoke and consume alcohol are more likely to have OSA


2.      Central Sleep Apnea (CSA)

In CSA, the brain fails to signal the muscles that are responsible for breathing. It usually occurs in adults with medical conditions such as heart disease or congenital disease. It might also occur in infants or premature infants. CSA causes breathing pauses and does not cause snoring like OSA. Some causes that can lead to CSA are:

  • Heart Conditions: Heart disorders such as atrial fibrillation, heart failure and stroke can increase the risk of CSA
  • Other Conditions: Other medical conditions that can lead to CSA are Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer's disease, obesity, hypothyroid disease and kidney failure
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Some people with OSA can develop CSA while using a positive airway pressure (PAP) treatment
  • Higher Altitudes: If you are sleeping at higher altitudes than you are accustomed to, you might have trouble breathing
  • Opioid Medications: People using opioid medications such as morphine, codeine are at a higher risk of CSA


3.      Mixed Sleep Apnea

As the name suggests, mixed sleep apnea is a combination of both obstructive and central sleep apnea symptoms


Usually, many patients with sleep apnea remain undiagnosed and often untreated. Untreated sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure, weight gain and headaches. Sleep apnea treatment consists of using CPAP and dental devices that help to keep the airway open at all times. Experienced dental assistants at Dr. Caroline Krivuzoff-Sanderson will help with sleep apnea consultation and treatment in Red Deer.


Contact us today to schedule an appointment for sleep apnea.