Yes there are there different severities and types of sleep apnea?

The severity of sleep apnea is based on one of three levels depending on the amount of nightly sleep interruptions in breathing:

  • Mild sleep apnea – The sufferer experiences 5-14 episodes of interruptions in breathing in an hour.
  • Moderate sleep apnea – The sufferer experiences 15-30 episodes of interruptions in breathing in an hour.
  • Severe sleep apnea – The sufferer experiences 30 or more interruptions in breathing in an hour.

Also there are three types of sleep apnea 1) Obstructive Sleep Apnea, 2) Central Sleep Apnea and 3) Complex Sleep Apnea.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) – Is often used interchangeably with “sleep apnea”, but they’re not the same thing. OSA is only a certain type of sleep apnea. However it is by far the most common type of sleep apnea, accounting for 80% or more of sleep apnea cases. It occurs when you have enlarged and/or relaxed throat muscles that obstruct your upper respiratory airways. Either the throat muscles collapse, the tongue falls back into the airway, or enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids impede air flow.

This causes the airway in the back of the throat to narrow or even close completely, blocking air from entering and leaving your lungs. This air flow blockage makes it difficult or impossible to breathe during sleep, which in turn causes a partial awakening and disrupted sleep. In other words, people with OSA have a “mechanical” problem with the tissue in their mouth and throat.

Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) – Unlike obstructive sleep apnea, which can be thought of as a mechanical problem, central sleep apnea is more of a communication problem. Central sleep apnea is also much less common that obstructive sleep apnea.  Central sleep apnea is named for its relation to the central nervous system and is a neurological problem that occurs when the brain fails to signal the body to breathe.

It’s often caused by medical problems and conditions that affect the brainstem and occurs when the brain temporarily stops signaling for the body to breathe until it detects a lack of oxygen and/or a heightened level of carbon dioxide that needs to be exhaled. Patients with this condition are physically able to breathe, except their brain is not telling them to do so causing carbon dioxide to build up in the body and oxygen levels to dip. Oftentimes (but not always), CSA is associated with other serious medical conditions such as congestive heart failure, kidney failure, or neurological diseases like Parkinson’s disease.

Complex Sleep Apnea – Is also known as mixed sleep apnea and as the name suggests is a combination of both obstructive and central sleep apnea, which makes it both a mechanical and communication problem.