Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) is a condition characterized by some kind of abnormal respiratory pattern during sleep. The abnormal respiratory pattern could consist of a complete stoppage of all breathing for at least 10 seconds, in which case it would be considered sleep apnea, or it might be a pattern during which breathing becomes much more shallow than normal, and this persists for at least 10 seconds. In either case, the individual does not get a good night’s sleep, because normal breathing is absent, and the person then wakes up tired and anxious as a result. When this goes on for a long time, it can become a major health issue for someone.
Types of sleep-disordered breathing
There are several types of sleep-disordered breathing, starting with the three different kinds of sleep apnea. The most common form of disorder is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and this involves having either a partial or complete airway collapse while the person is sleeping. Obstructive sleep apnea affects approximately three out of every 10 men, and two out of every 10 women.
Central sleep apnea (CSA) is somewhat different, in that patients who experience this disorder are generally suffering from some kind of central nervous system disorder. It could be that the brain does not signal for breathing to take place normally, or that the signal to inhale is not properly received. Mixed sleep apnea (MSA) is a combination of the first two types of apneas, and causes an inability to sleep by intermittently alternating between central and obstructive sleep apnea.
A hypopnea is related to sleep apnea, but is in a different class of sleep issues or sleep disruptions. For at least 10 seconds, a hypopnea causes a decrease in airflow, a decrease in oxygen saturation, and approximately a 30% reduced rate of ventilation. Altogether, it has the effect of lowering the amount of oxygen which is supplied to the body’s red blood cells.
Being diagnosed with sleep-disordered breathing
A formal diagnosis of sleep apnea can only be done by a board-certified sleep specialist, and the process involves several steps. First a medical history and symptom analysis will be collected from the patient, and then X-Rays will be taken of the upper airway and jaws. Next, a head and neck exam will be conducted, so as to confirm any data uncovered by the X-Rays. Following this, the patient will have the option to take a Home Sleep Test which would later be interpreted by a specialist, and if necessary, a program of treatment would then be initiated.