What Is the Difference Between Central Sleep Apnea and Other Severe Forms of Sleep Apnea?


Quick Answer

While central sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to send signals to the muscles that control breathing, obstructive sleep apnea results from upper airway obstruction according to Mayo Clinic. Of these two major types, obstructive sleep apnea is by far the most common.

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Full Answer

Symptoms of central sleep apnea include abrupt awakenings with shortness of breath, insomnia, daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating and mood changes as listed by Mayo Clinic. A partner may also observe episodes of halted breathing or abnormal breathing patterns while the individual is sleeping. Although snoring may be a symptom of central sleep apnea, it is more common and pronounced in obstructive sleep apnea. Individuals should contact a health care professional if they experience any of these symptoms.

Central sleep apnea may be the result of an underlying condition that affects the brainstem as stated by Mayo Clinic. Cheyne-Stokes breathing is often associated with congestive heart failure and features a gradual increase and decrease of breathing effort, and stroke and tumors can also lead to central sleep apnea. Certain medications such as morphine sulfate, oxycodone and codeine sulfate may cause irregular or halted breathing. Individuals who are male, over age 65 or living at a high altitude are at a greater risk of developing the condition.

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