Understanding Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome

complex sleep apnea - surgical sleep solutions california and montana

Most people with sleep disorders are familiar with the two major types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea (CSA). However, in 2006 the Mayo Clinic discovered a third type of sleep apnea that combines OSA and CSA. This new sleep disorder was coined complex sleep apnea syndrome, also known as mixed sleep apnea or treatment-emergent sleep apnea.

What is Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome?

The most common form of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea, in which a person has difficulty breathing regularly at night due to an obstruction in the airway. Obstructive sleep apnea can be treated in a variety of ways, including lifestyle changes, positional therapy, oral devices, continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) devices, and sleep apnea surgery.

The second most common form of sleep apnea is central sleep apnea, in which a person has difficulty breathing because of a neurological issue unrelated to their airway. While the symptoms of CSA are the same as OSA, the causes are different and include: Parkinson’s disease, certain medications, and heart disease.

Complex sleep apnea syndrome is a combination of obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. It is often discovered after a patient’s OSA is treated (either through CPAP or surgery) when symptoms of sleep apnea remain even after the airway is cleared. While some patients may simply have both common types of the disease, some doctors believe that complex sleep apnea only emerges after OSA is treated. A Mayo Clinic study found that an estimated 15 percent of OSA patients actually suffer from some form of complex sleep apnea.

How Is Complex Sleep Apnea Treated?

Because complex sleep apnea syndrome is not deeply understood, the treatment strategies are not well defined and often vary widely depending on the individual patient and his or her circumstances.

If the patient suffers from OSA because of an obstructed airway and suffers from central sleep apnea because of Parkinson’s disease, for example, treatment would involve both treating the OSA issues and the Parkinson’s issues separately. On the other hand, if central sleep apnea symptoms are emerging when a patient’s OSA is being treated, treatment may look very different and could include a different pressure setting on the CPAP machine, lifestyle changes, or medication.

Complex Sleep Apnea Treatment At Surgical Sleep Solutions

At Surgical Sleep Solutions, we believe that we cannot find our patients the best treatment options until they receive an accurate diagnosis. From that point, we can begin to explore the options that are best for your diagnosis, your medical history, and the severity of your sleep disorder. To schedule a consultation with one of our physicians, please call us today at (855) 560-7378 or fill out our quick contact form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

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