Central Apnea, How Does it Differ from OSA?

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Central apnea is different from obstructive sleep apnea. In obstructive sleep apnea, trouble breathing occurs because there is a blockage in the breathing airway. Meanwhile, in central sleep apnea, a person involuntarily takes shallow breaths. The lack of oxygen intake will later force him to wake up. Someone with this condition typically experiences at least 5 breathing pauses in an hour.


Central apnea is often linked to various health conditions, such as renal failure, stroke, heart failure, and drug abuse. There are many potential causes, which is why finding the root of the problem is important before treatment is administered.

Central Apnea


It manifests as a few symptoms, such as constant wakeups during sleep, shortness of breath, trouble sleeping, trouble concentrating, mood problems, headaches, and daytime drowsiness. Some of these symptoms are quite general and they don’t always result from sleep apnea. But if you have a few symptoms all at once, then beware that they might be caused by this condition.


There is something called a sleep study. This is useful to identify sleep apnea based on someone’s sleep pattern. The study can be performed at a sleep center or at home. They are slightly different, but also similar. Prior to a test, you will need to put certain equipment on your body. It’s basically a monitoring device consisting of multiple sensors that you must put in different areas of the skin.

If you do it at a clinic, then you should sleep in one of the private rooms for a night. The same applies to a home test. It also requires you to wear a device and then sleep. The device will record your sleep patterns throughout the night. There are many parameters the device can track, such as airflow, heart rate, oxygen saturation, etc.


Treatment varies depending on the cause. If it’s age-related, then the person will grow out of it as he gets older. Another treatment is oxygen supply. The inability of the brain to control breathing will affect the amount of oxygen that gets into the body. Since oxygen is very important to human health, the patient would need external oxygen supply during sleep. This is to make sure the oxygen levels remain steady.

There is also CPAP. This treatment also works for obstructive sleep apnea. Devices used for this treatment come in one or two pressure settings. In people who have trouble breathing against pressure, devices with 2 pressure settings may be better. In this treatment, a patient needs to wear a special mask that covers the nose, mouth, or both. The mask receives pressured air from a machine. They are connected by a hose.