Mixed Sleep Apnea (MSA)

Last Updated: September 24, 2018

Definition - What does Mixed Sleep Apnea (MSA) mean?

Mixed sleep apnea (MSA) is a sleep disorder that causes the sufferer to stop breathing for brief periods while asleep. Mixed sleep apnea is one of three types of sleep apnea. MSA is characterized by a combination of the symptoms of central and obstructive sleep apnea. For example, a person may suffer an episode of obstructive sleep apnea in which the airway is blocked, interrupting blood flow to the brain. The subsequent lack of oxygen may trigger a central apnea episode in which the brain fails to properly send breathing signals to the respiratory system. The reverse situation may also occur. An individual experiencing an episode of central sleep apnea may then suffer an obstructive apnea event.

WorkplaceTesting explains Mixed Sleep Apnea (MSA)

Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person's breathing is interrupted during sleep. This interruption may be caused by a physical blockage of the airway or a nervous system failure. Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by a physical collapse of the airway. During an obstructive sleep apnea episode, the body continues to attempt to breath but cannot. In contract, central sleep apnea is caused by a breakdown in the signal from the brain to the respiratory system. During a central sleep apnea episode, the body stops breathing altogether; there is no physical effort to breathe.

When a person experiences both a disruption of involuntary muscle control and physical collapse of the airway, he or she may be diagnosed with mixed sleep apnea. A similar condition, complex sleep apnea, may also be diagnosed in some cases. While the symptoms of these two conditions are similar, differences in duration and causation distinguish them.

Symptoms of mixed sleep apnea can include snoring, abrupt waking, headaches, daytime sleepiness, chronic fatigue, mood swings, lack of concentration, and irritability. Treatment of mixed sleep apnea usually includes the use of a type of positive airway pressure device. Because of the combination of causes and symptoms, adaptive-servo ventilation (ASV) may be used to treat mixed sleep apnea. In some instances, medications, surgery or the use of an oral appliance while sleeping may also be recommended.

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