Types of sleep apnoea
There are three main types of sleep apnoea:
- Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)
- Central Sleep Apnoea (CSA)
- Mixed sleep apnoea
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)
Obstructive sleep apnoea is the most common type of sleep apnoea, making up 84% of sleep apnoea diagnoses.1
In most cases of obstructive sleep apnoea, air stops flowing to the lungs because of a blockage (or obstruction) in the upper airway-that is, in the nose or throat.
The upper airway could become blocked due to:
- The muscles relaxing too much during sleep, which blocks sufficient air from getting through*
- The weight of your neck narrowing the airway
- Inflamed tonsils, or other temporary reasons
- Structural reasons, like the shape of the nose, neck or jaw
Central Sleep Apnoea (CSA)
Central Sleep Apnoea (CSA) is rare in general,1 and can be caused by certain drug therapies used in pain management, such as opioids, as well as heart failure, or a disease or injury involving the brain, such as:
- Brain tumor
- Viral brain infection
- Chronic respiratory disease
In cases of CSA the airway is actually open but air stops flowing to the lungs because no effort is made to breathe. This is basically because the communication between the brain and the body has been lost, so the automatic action of breathing stops.
Those with CSA don't often snore, so the condition sometimes goes unnoticed.
Noticeably, in case of heart failure, CSA is very frequent, with up to 1 patient over 4 being affected.2 CSA also has a specific pattern in Heart Failure, known as Cheyne-Stokes Respiration (CSR).
People with CSR have an abnormal, cyclic pattern of breathing that alternates deeper and sometimes faster breathing with a temporary stop in breathing (apnoea).
Together, Central Sleep Apnoea and Cheyne-Stokes respiration are known as CSA-CSR, which occurs in 30 to 50% of people with heart failure.1
Mixed sleep apnoea
This is a combination of both OSA (where there is a blockage or obstruction in the upper airway) and CSA (where no effort is made to breathe). Your doctor can help you understand more about this if you need to.
If you have any concerns that you may have any type of sleep apnoea, please consult your doctor.
Morgenthaler TI, Kagramanov V, Hanak V, Decker PA. Complex sleep apnoea syndrome: is it a unique clinical syndrome? Sleep 2006;29(9):1203-9
* This narrow airway causes a vibration in your throat, which creates the sound of snoring.
More sleep apnoea
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