Types and Causes of Sleep Apnea

There are three main types of sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is by far the most common kind. If you have OSA, the soft tissues of the throat collapse while you are asleep, blocking your airways so that breathing stops temporarily. Every time this happens, you will wake up, often unconsciously. This can occur anywhere from dozens to hundreds of times every night.

Central sleep apnea (CSA) is a rarer and more serious condition in which the brain does not send the right signals to the muscles that control breathing. As a result, breathing will stop, usually for 10 to 30 seconds each time. When sufferers wake up, breathing will resume normally. However, because of the many disruptions to sleep, sufferers experience chronic exhaustion and other symptoms. Because CSA is a nerve-related condition, Dr. Ludka cannot treat this type of sleep apnea, and sufferers must be referred to a specialist.

The third type is called complex sleep apnea, and it is a mix of obstructive and central sleep apnea. This type of sleep apnea may require a combination of treatment with a dental appliance, provided by Dr. Ludka, and treatment by a sleep specialist.

Dr. Ludka’s recommended treatments can help you achieve the sleep you need.

Sleep Apnea Risk Factors

Obstructive sleep apnea can affect anyone, but specific risk factors include:

  • Being male
  • Being over age 50
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Smoking
  • A naturally small throat
  • Enlarged tonsils or adenoids
  • A genetic history of sleep apnea

Being overweight and being a senior can also increase your risk for central sleep apnea. In addition, certain medical conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease and strokes, can lead to CSA.

Determining the Right Treatment

The most appropriate sleep apnea treatment will depend on the underlying cause of your condition, as well as any contributing factors. In most cases, we recommend oral appliances, such as the TAP® or SomnoDent® devices. These appliances will move your lower jaw and tongue slightly forward keeping your throat open.

In many cases, we may also recommend making certain lifestyle changes. These modifications could include:

  • Losing weight
  • Quitting smoking
  • Avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and heavy meals before bed
  • Regulating the times that you go to bed and wake up
  • Committing to regular exercise
  • Sleeping on your side
  • Retraining your facial muscles with specific exercises


Contact Us to Learn More about Sleep Apnea

To learn more about the causes of sleep apnea and our available treatment options, contact Bowie Dental Sleep Center today. Dr. Ludka’s expert care can help you achieve long-term relief.