Mixed Sleep Apnea Facts

 By: Christian Rabatsch
This form of sleep apnea is also known as complex sleep apnea. This is because it is a combination of obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. According to a 2014 publication by Khan & Franco, complex sleep apnea occurs when there has been persistent central sleep apnea for more than 5 hours, despite the airway being cleared by positive airway pressure. In complex sleep apnea, there appears to be no clear cause such as systolic heart failure or narcotics. Since complex sleep apnea is a combination of obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea, this article will discuss different facts of each.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

This is the most common type of sleep apnea, which affects men more than it does women. Only a handful of patients get to be diagnosed while the rest remain undiagnosed and suffer in silence.


Obstructive sleep apnea, as the name suggests, is caused by complete or partial obstruction of the airway during sleep. A person's throat muscles relax during sleep, which causes either fatty tissues or the tongue to fall into the airway, blocking the air flow. Because of the obstruction, oxygen to the brain is reduced, thus signaling the brain to wake up the body to signal it that it needs oxygen. This is when the patient makes a loud choking, gasping or snorting sound during sleep after which the person is forced to take a deep breath in order to push air past the obstruction.

After the deep breath is taken, the breath signals the body to go back to sleep, after which the whole process is repeated. Depending on the severity of the sleep apnea, this process may occur several or a hundred times a night. Obstructive sleep apnea is categorized into mild, moderate and severe.

Central Sleep Apnea

Central sleep apnea on the other hand, occurs once the brain fails to signal the breath controlling muscle. While obstructive sleep apnea is mechanical, central sleep apnea is a communication issue. This form is not as common as obstructive sleep apnea. Conditions that affect the brain cause this type of sleep apnea. Such conditions include Parkinson's disease, brain infection or brain stroke, heart failure and narcotic painkillers.

Symptoms of this condition include chronic fatigue, shortness of breath, mood changes, morning headaches, difficulty concentrating, and irregular breathing during sleep, restless sleep and excessive daytime drowsiness.

Mixed Sleep Apnea

Patients who are treated for obstructive sleep apnea tend to develop symptoms of central sleep apnea after using Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). Complex sleep apnea is diagnosed after a patient continues to have breathing difficulty despite being successfully treated by CPAP therapy.


The available form of treatment for complex sleep apnea is CPAP machines, but only if it is set at the lowest pressure setting. This will help in keeping the airways free from any blockage, but at the same time, it will also help in preventing CSA symptoms from developing. Where CPAP has failed, BIPAP therapy can also be used.
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There are a range of treatment options which can be used to treat sleep apnoea. You may be required to lose weight, to go through surgery or to use CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy. CPAP therapy is used to treat OSA and uses a machine which blows air that's pressurized from a motor through a mask worn over the mouth and nose when you sleep.
Sleep apnea is a disorder whereby you experience a pause in your breathing during sleep. When breathing resumes, you will normally make a choking or grunting noise. A person with sleep apnea cannot know that they have the condition and it is also difficult to diagnose it. Family members and partners are the ones who will usually observe that there is a problem due to the noises made by the sufferer during sleep.
Snoring is not something to be taken lightly, if you have tried everything else and failed, you should see your doctor just to be sure there are not other hidden medical issues. With early diagnosis, you may discover that you are suffering from obstructive apnea, which has long-term effects. If that is not the case, they can still suggest other essential options for treating your snoring problem.

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