Many patients are unaware that there are two different types of sleep apnea. The type that most are familiar with is obstructive sleep apnea, where muscles block air from coming through the airway passage, causing complications during sleep. The other type is central sleep apnea.
Central sleep apnea is very different than obstructive. The muscles in the mouth and the throat are actually not factors at all in this case – it is actually much more complicated. Central sleep apnea concerns the brain, which stops the breathing function of the system while the patient sleeps.
Many of the symptoms, however, are the same. Patients will wake up dozens of times a night in order to prompt breathing again. Fatigue, listlessness, moodiness, and other behavioral changes are common due to the lack of REM sleep. If left untreated for too long, serious health issues and depression could arise.
Treatment for central sleep apnea usually employs CPAP machines. These are medium-sized devices that work to provide a constant stream of air into the nose and/or mouth, triggering the breathing process externally. This treatment is usually successful in eliminating the symptoms of central sleep apnea.