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Sleep apnea is a disorder where breathing is repeatedly paused or disrupted during sleep. It is estimated that 5% to 10% of the world’s population suffers from sleep apnea, and millions of people are diagnosed every year. While it can lead to serious health problems if left untreated, the first step to treating your sleep apnea is to understand which type you have.

There are three different types of sleep apnea that can significantly affect your health:

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea, or OSA, is the most common type of sleep apnea. During OSA, your throat muscles block your airway during sleep, depriving your brain of oxygen and causing you to wake up repeatedly.

Symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Headaches
  • Sleepiness during the day
  • Dry mouth or sore throat upon waking
  • Insomnia

OSA can lead to a number of health problems, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Cardiovascular issues
  • Complications with medications and surgery

Central Sleep Apnea

Central Sleep Apnea concerns brain signals rather than a blockage in the airway. At night, the brain temporarily stops sending signals to breathing muscles. It is often caused by an underlying medical issue rather than a physical obstruction like in OSA.

Symptoms of central sleep apnea include:

  • Waking up short of breath
  • Sleepiness during the day
  • Insomnia

CSA can be more difficult to diagnose than other types of sleep apnea. It is important to determine and address the health issue causing sleep apnea before moving forward with treatment. These issues can include:

  • Drugs (particularly opioid usage)
  • Stroke
  • Brain infection
  • Congestive heart failure

Complex (Mixed) Sleep Apnea

In this type of sleep apnea, symptoms from obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea are both present. There is an upper airway obstruction as well as similar events to central sleep apnea that have no clear cause.

Symptoms of complex sleep apnea include:

  • Waking up during sleep
  • Sleepiness during the day
  • Confusion and dry mouth upon waking up
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia


Sleep apnea can be treated in a variety of ways, including:

  • Lifestyle changes, such as:
    • Exercising
    • Reduction of alcohol use and smoking
    • Avoiding sleeping on back
  • Mouth device
  • CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines
  • Surgery

Athens Oral Surgery Center offers jaw surgery that can correct some types of sleep apnea.

If you are considering treatment options for your sleep apnea, talk to Athens Oral Surgery as soon as possible.

We use rapidly evolving technologies, like 3D imaging and modeling, to diagnose and treat sleep apnea. Dr. Tomlinson can recommend you to healthcare professionals that can help treat your condition, regardless of what type of sleep apnea you have.  Schedule an appointment with our team by calling 706-549-5033.