What is the Most Severe Form of Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that causes breathing to stop and start repeatedly while you sleep. It is characterized by snoring, pauses in breathing, and shortness of breath. The apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) measures obstructive sleep apnea to determine a range from mild to severe, based on the number of breathing pauses per hour you have while you sleep. Mild

obstructive sleep apnea

means that the AHI is between 5 and 15, while severe

obstructive sleep apnea

is an AHI of more than 30.

Central sleep apnea and complex sleep apnea are two other forms of sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to send signals to the muscles that control breathing, while complex sleep apnea is a combination of both obstructive and central sleep apnea. Because these awakenings are usually very brief, the person with sleep apnea may not even realize that they are experiencing a sleep interruption. If you ignore this common sleep disorder, you increase your risk of many other health problems and could endanger other people.

According to the American Sleep Apnea Association (ASAA), sleep apnea can have long-term health effects. But what's scary is that up to 9 out of 10 people who have obstructive sleep apnea don't know they have it. If a doctor suspects that you have sleep apnea, the first step toward a diagnosis will usually be to perform a sleep study. Your doctor may also recommend that you lose weight and avoid sleeping on your back, to prevent gravity from pushing your tongue, tonsils, and other soft tissue in your throat further into your respiratory tract.

CPAP is considered the most effective nonsurgical treatment for severe

obstructive sleep apnea

. It is the first therapeutic option for adults, according to the University of Michigan Health. Researchers say that reboxetine, a medication used to treat depression, may help relieve sleep apnea, but experts are concerned about the drug's side effects. They concluded that more research is needed to better define the condition and to further study which treatments are most effective in treating complex sleep apnea.

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