There are two different types of sleep apnea - obstructive (OSA) and central (CSA). There is also a third type known as mixed sleep apnea which is a combination of the other two.
OSA occurs when something blocks a person's airway and doesn't allow them to get the necessary amount of air while sleeping. This can be caused by a number of things. Obesity is probably the most common reason.
Overweight people have fatty tissue deposits in the neck and throat area which can cause the throat to be blocked when lying down. This restricts the airway and the airflow through it.
Other common causes of OSA include enlarged adenoids or tonsils, allergies, nasal deformities and sleeping in a poor position. Snoring is often a symptom of sleep apea as the snoring is caused by the body struggling to get the necessary amount of oxygen.
Central sleep apnea has similar symptoms but the causes are different. CSA is actually quite rare - much more so than OSA. People suffering from CSA have a problem with the timing in their brain. It regulates the rest of the body, including breathing. This timing does not “fire" properly in CSA patients, causing a lack of oxygen while sleeping.
In both types of sleep apnea, the sufferer wakes up a number of times over the course of a night, often gasping or choking for air. These interruptions in sleep can happen up to 100 times a night, causing a lack of quality rest.
This can lead to headaches and sore throats the next day from a lack of oxygen and the body's fighting to get more. There are many other problems that result, such as drowsiness, irritability and lack of concentration.
Sleep apnea sufferers can be affected in the workplace, in their personal relationship and other areas where the emotional and physical drain can cause problems.
High blood pressure is another common result of sleep apnea and if it is not treated it can ultimately lead to a stroke or heart disease. Anyone who is showing signs of these symptoms should consult with their doctor for further advice, and more thorough tests if the doctor deems it necessary.
Rudy Watkins writes about sleep apnea symptoms and other related topics on the Apnea Guide website. For more helpful information about sleep apnea, visit http://www.apneaguide.com