Obstructive Sleep Apnea versus Central Sleep Apnea

By: Ohio State Wexner Medical Center

Obstructive sleep apnea is when the airway becomes narrowed or obstructed and you're making the effort to breathe but we do not see any flow in air movement coming from your nose or mouth. Where central sleep apnea occurs where your brain forgets to tell your body to breathe. If we're looking at it from a very simplistic term and so we do not see the drive to breathe.

So the first step is to come into the clinic and be seen by one of our physicians in the sleep medicine clinic. We'll go through a questionnaire and try to determine what risk factors we think you have for sleep apnea such as obesity, snoring, daytime sleepiness and then if we think that you have a high risk for meeting those criteria then we would set you up for a sleep study either in your home to do an overnight sleep study or in our laboratory, depending on your situation. The CPAP can be used to treat both conditions and, in some patients, that is enough. However, there are some patients that have more complex types of central sleep apnea that require more complicated types of machines to treat that condition. Obstructive sleep apnea actually has been linked to a lot of other problems such as high blood pressure and then, you know, difficulty functioning during the day. If it goes untreated for a long period of time there's an increased risk of early heart problems and those types of things.

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