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What are the 3 Types of Sleep Apnea?

Most people are unaware of what they do while they are sleeping. Snoring and interrupted breathing patterns are actions that may only be noticed by someone else who is sleeping nearby. If you’ve been told that you snore or gasp for air when you sleep (because you may have stopped breathing for a short time), you might have sleep apnea. Even if you generally sleep alone, there are other signs that you might have sleep apnea. If you routinely experience any of these symptoms in the morning or during your daytime hours, contact a doctor to discuss your symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Dry mouth
  • Lack of concentration
  • Irritability

Types of Sleep Apnea

There are different reasons why you may be experiencing sleep apnea:

  1. Your throat muscles are relaxing as you sleep. This is called obstructive sleep apnea and it can cause the airway in your throat to close so you can’t take a breath as you sleep. Your brain will instruct your body to wake briefly so you can engage those muscles. This may lead to a gasping sound. This can occur many times throughout the night so you’ll continually wake – even though you may not realize it. Understandably, you’ll feel tired the next day because your sleep was so interrupted throughout the night.
  2. Your brain doesn’t tell your muscles to breathe. This is called central sleep apnea and it may be associated with diseases such as Parkinson’s, stroke or even obesity.
  3. Both of these conditions are happening as you sleep. This is called complex sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep disorder. It can often be treated with the use of a CPAP machine. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy is administered by wearing a mask as you sleep. The mask is connected to a machine that delivers constant air pressure so your throat muscles do not relax and close. This treatment can be frustrating and difficult to tolerate at first, but as patients get used to the treatment, they can start to feel better overall.

Central sleep apnea treatment may require overnight monitoring of your sleep patterns and body functions. Your doctor may recommend CPAP treatment, medications or treatment of other medical problems to provide relief and help you feel more rested throughout your days.

If you think you may be experiencing sleep apnea in Phoenix, AZ, contact the team at Biltmore ENT, Facial Plastics & Allergy. Our team of ear, nose and throat specialists in Phoenix will work with you to diagnose sleep apnea and provide effective treatments for your unique situation. To schedule an appointment with us, please call (602) 956-1250 or visit our website at