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What are the types of sleep apnea?

There are three classifications for sleep apnea including central, obstructive and complex. Central sleep apnea is associated with an interrupted or decreased respiratory effort. Obstructive sleep apnea is blockage of the airflow despite respiratory effort such as snoring. And complex sleep apnea is a combination of central and obstructive.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
There are two types of sleep apnea: obstructive, which is the most common, and central.

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when something is literally obstructing or blocking your airway.

Central involves the central nervous system. Essentially, your brain isn't communicating well with your respiratory system, so the pauses between breaths are much too long.
There are two types of sleep apnea: central apnea and obstructive apnea. In central apnea, the brain does not send the proper signals to breathe during sleep; this is a rare condition but can be treated. In obstructive apnea, which is by far the most common type, the patient tries to breathe but cannot because of tissue obstruction in the upper airway which is more pronounced when the patient lies down, or from muscle relaxation during deep sleep. This obstruction can be from excess tissue, and also from disproportionate anatomy in the upper airway.
Scott M. Leibowitz, MD
Sleep Medicine
There are two basic types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. Watch this video to learn more from Dr. Scott Leibowitz about the different types of sleep apnea.


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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.