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What are the 3 Types of Sleep Apnea?

3 Types of Sleep Apnea

by Eric Martin
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What are the 3 Types of Sleep Apnea?

What is Sleep Apnea?

Breathing patterns are altered when you sleep, which is a sleep disorder known as sleep apnea or sleep apnoea. During sleep, there are either brief pauses in breathing or intervals of shallow breathing. Due to breathlessness, this ailment frequently causes loud snoring or choking. This may affect a child’s academic performance or lead to hyperactivity. This is a potentially serious sleep disorder. Your prolonged snoring every night and struggle to get air in the middle of the night can be a warning sign that you may have Sleep Apnea. 

How common is Sleep Apnea?

How common is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Apnea issue is quite common in the US. Moreover, 50 to 70 million American adult population are diagnosed with Sleep Apnea disorder. Additionally among them, 90% of Sleep Apnea cases go undiagnosed which increases the risk among patients. 

What are the Types of Sleep Apnea?

What are the Types of Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Apnea in general disrupts a person’s sleeping patterns leading them to struggle with sleep. If we narrow down this sleeping condition properly then we can find three forms of Sleep Apnea. Medically, we can find three types of Sleep Apnea as follows:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea
  • Central Sleep Apnea
  • Complex Sleep Apnea syndrome

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

This type of Sleep Apnea affects a majority of Sleep Apnea patients. This condition usually occurs due to functional obstruction in parts of the body like the mouth and throat. Obstructive Sleep Apnea can lead to heavy snoring. This happens when the tongue and soft palate rattle with each other. A person who has OSA may wake up feeling shortness of breath. There is an insufficient amount of breathing level even though their lungs function properly. People who are aging, pregnant, or sleep on their back suffer from this type of Sleep Apnea usually. Also, this condition becomes more prevalent as age passes by.

Central Sleep Apnea (CSA)

This type of Sleep Apnea occurs due to neurological reasons rather than an airway obstruction. Central Sleep Apnea makes a person’s brain and nervous system unable to send off signals of breathing during their sleep time. A person with this type of Sleep Apnea does not try to break causing it to snore rather they just simply stop breathing. When CSA occurs in patients on patterns it also is labeled as Cheyne-Stokes breathing because the person alternates between hyperventilating to no total breathing. This type of Sleep Apnea can cause heart failure.

Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome 

There are cases where patients can have more than one type of Sleep Apnea together and this combination of OSA and CSA is Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome. You can detect this type of combination of Sleep Apnea during a sleep study. You cannot fix or resolve Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome through the treatment method of OSA or CSA usually.

Moreover, according to a 2006 retrospective review, 84% of Sleep Apnea patients in the sample study had Obstructive Sleep Apnea and 15% had Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome with Central Sleep Apnea being the least at 0.4%.

What are the Signs That You Have SA?

Here are the most common signs patients with Sleep Apnea fo through as follows:

  • Struggling to breathe during sleep
  • Waking up with a dry mouth
  • Headaches during morning
  • Loud prolonged snoring
  • Insomnia
  • Hypersomnia
  • Excessive daytime sleeping
  • Unable to stay asleep
  • Difficulty with attention when you’re awake
  • Feeling agitated or irritated.

Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) Include:

  • Feeling tired after you wake up
  • Waking up in a panic mode 
  • Shortness of breath during sleep
  • Getting headaches frequently
  • Dry mouth after you wake up
  • Confusion when you’re awake
  • Unable to concentrate during work or study
  • You always wonder why you feel sleep deprivation even though you had enough sleep

Signs of Central Sleep Apnea (CSA)

  • Unable to fall or stay asleep (Insomnia)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling panic
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Unable to concentrate

Symptoms of Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome are:

  • Frequent waking up from sleep
  • Fatigue during day
  • Feeling confused after waking up
  • Headaches
  • Dry Mouth 
  • Insomnia
  • Your quality of sleep reduces a lot

How to Treat Sleep Apnea?

There are several ways to treat Sleep Apnea effectively and help patients get relief from it. Treatment of both central sleep apnea (CSA) and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is done differently. When treating sleep apnea with behavioral treatment, a doctor may frequently prescribe sleeping pills, reduce or quit alcohol or intoxicant consumption, and recommend sedatives to help you breathe correctly while you sleep by relaxing the muscles in your throat. Numerous methods, including medications and, if required, surgery, can help open blocked airways while you’re asleep.

Treatments for OSA are:

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)- This is a mask that is applied over the nose or mouth which helps to blow out air into the through helping them to breathe enough during sleep time

Surgery- Removal of excessive tissue around the airway or restructuring the airway. Also, surgery can be performed to rectify structural issues in the mouth and upper airways

Oral devices- Devices that can help the airway to stay open. It works by preventing the tongue to rattle with the soft palate

Medications- Drugs that contain medroxyprogesterone, fluoxetine, acetazolamide, and protriptyline can be prescribed by doctors to treat OSA 

Treatments for Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) are:

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)- This is a mask  that is put over the nose or mouth which helps to blow out air into the through helping them to breathe enough during sleep time

Adaptive servo-ventilation (ASV)- This device helps to identify and monitor a patient’s breathing patterns to deliver air pressure to the patient’s ideal to their natural breathing patterns during sleep

Oxygen supplementation- Inducing extra Oxygen during sleep through the nose and airways

Phrenic nerve stimulation- This method helps to control the phrenic nerve of the diaphragm

Medications- Drugs that contain Acetazolamide are generally suggested by doctors to treat CSA

Treatment for Complex SA Syndrome are:

This type of Sleep Apnea is a combination of both OSA and CSA. You cannot treat Complex Sleep Apnea Su with one Sleep Apnea type’s methods like CPAP as well. To treat Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome, your doctor may involve various medications and treatments either directly for Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome or underlying conditions.


Breathing patterns are altered when you sleep, which is a sleep disorder known as sleep apnea or sleep apnoea. Sleep apnea can be categorized in three forms i.e., central sleep apnea (CSA), obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), or Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome (combination of both). There are many ways to treat sleep apnea. Both central sleep apnea (CSA) and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can be treated differently. 

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