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Types of Sleep Apnea

There are two types of sleep apnea: Obstructive and Central. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the more common of the two. It is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep.

The drawing below shows the airway of a healthy individual and an OSA patient. During sleep, the OSA patient's upper airway is obstructed, so with obstructed breathing oxygen level in the blood goes down, which triggers the brain response to wake up to breath normally.

Patient’s throat muscles respond to brain's messages to wake up to begin breathing again your blood oxygen levels return to normal, and then you fall back asleep. These awakenings are very brief and often are not remembered unless you wake up choking.


Symptoms of OSA may include snoring, daytime sleepiness, fatigue, restlessness during sleep, gasping for air while sleeping and trouble concentrating.

In Central Sleep Apnea (CSA), the airway is not blocked but the brain fails to tell the body to breathe. This type is called Central Apnea because it is related to the function of the central nervous system for which patient needs to go different treatment. Those with CSA may have gasping for air but mostly report recurrent awakenings during night.