Mixed Apnea

Last Updated: August 26, 2018

Definition - What does Mixed Apnea mean?

Mixed apnea is the temporary stoppage of breathing during sleep due to a combination of the other two types of apnea, obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. This means that the cause of the temporary stop to breathing can vary between the obstruction of the airways and failure of the brain to send a signal to breathe. Patients suffering from mixed apnea are frequently awakened by the lack of breathing and this lowers the quality of sleep. Mixed apnea is also called mixed sleep apnea and complex sleep apnea.

WorkplaceTesting explains Mixed Apnea

Mixed apnea is the temporary stoppage of breathing during sleep caused by a combination of a mechanical obstruction of the airways or by the failure of the brain to send the correct directing signal to the muscles that control breathing. It usually begins with the temporary failure of the brain and proceeds to mechanical obstruction. The lack of breathing makes patients wake up from sleep in order to start breathing again. This decreases the quality of sleep and results in fatigue, drowsiness, morning headaches, irritability, and difficulty in concentrating.

One of the best current treatments for mixed apnea is the use of Central Positive Air Pressure (CPAP) devices. Patients use them when sleeping to maintain continuous air pressure to prevent throat muscles and tongue from obstructing the airway.However, this does not treat the brain signal failures. If CPAP devices fail, doctors often recommend Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure (BPAP) devices that supply more air when the patient inhales and less air when he exhales. Treatment options for mixed apnea are still being refined however.

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