Understanding Sleep Apnea: OSA and CSA


Sleep apnea is a medical condition which causes you to cease breathing briefly while sleeping. A long enough interruption in your respiration at any given time is harmful enough, and on top of that you are totally out when it occurs. To put things in perspective, any normal human being will die after about 3 minutes without air.

The amount of the pauses in your respiration can change and so can the frequency. At times the individual pauses have been known to last a full minute or longer. Considering the fact that 3 minutes without air will kill you, that’s pretty scary.

They’ve been found to occur as much as thirty times in 1 hour. Think about this. If you suffer from sleep apnea it’s like trying to rest while somebody is strangling you all night.

Effects of Sleep Apnea

The symptoms and effects of snoring might seem bad, but the results of sleep apnea can actually destroy your daily life. It’s been proven to damage specific sections of the brain as a result of the oxygen deprivation it causes. If your doctor has reason to believe that you have severe sleep apnea they may check for brain damage as a precaution.

Sadly things just get worse from there. The particular sections of the brain that may be damaged by this illness are quite important to our regular lives. The regions impacted most by oxygen deprivation control your motivation, mood, and general temper.

Possibly the most terrifying thing about this condition is the fact that most people who suffer from it never understand what’s wrong with them. They may notice the changes but they often have no idea why these changes are happening. Typically the irregular breathing during sleep will be noticed by someone else, but some people live alone and some partners really think nothing of it because of how widespread and accepted snoring is.

This problem can really reduce the quality of your life and ultimately contribute to an early death. Do not allow it. You will find solutions out there but first you need to know what kind of sleep apnea you have.

Kinds of Sleep Apnea

I’m sure you understand what snoring is at this point. However, if I attempted to identify all of the individual people I personally know with sleep apnea I’d need to count on my fingers and I would probably be using my toes by the time I’m done.

However, did you know that there is more than 1 kind of sleep apnea?

There are two main kinds and a third that’s a mixture of these. You will understand the 3 types of sleep apnea by the time you are done reading here.


OSA stands for obstructive sleep apnea. Chances are that this is the kind you are familiar with. Over 80% of people who are diagnosed with sleep apnea have this kind.

OSA is exactly what it sounds like. Those with this sleep disorder stop breathing because of a physical obstruction in the airway. This can be due to a number of factors, for example weight is one that comes up a lot.

If you have this condition then the short periods where you stop breathing are caused by a complete collapse or closure of your airway. You may be thinking that doesn’t sound very normal. It is not normal and definitely something that you should seek treatment for. Make no mistake, this disorder is dangerous.


CSA stands for central sleep apnea. Although CSA and OSA share the same symptoms, what causes them is different. If you have CSA then the lapse in your breathing is caused by an issue with your nervous system.

Your central nervous system does not function properly for some reason and it doesn’t send enough signals to your lungs. A low number or temporary lack of signals or nerve impulses allows your lungs to stop working.

As you can imagine, this version of sleep apnea is a bit harder to treat than OSA due to the complexity of the human nervous system. Although there are not many options available for treatment, you should still see a doctor about this.

Mixed Sleep Apnea

As you may have already guessed, mixed sleep apnea is a combination of OSA and CSA. One thing I didn’t know until recently is that there is a relationship between OSA and CSA.

Basically what it comes down to is that OSA can cause CSA. It seems that what happens is the consistent interruptions in your breathing during sleep can cause your nervous system to think this is normal.

OSA can fool your nervous system into sending fewer nerve impulses to your lungs, thus causing CSA. Those who are diagnosed with mixed sleep apnea are probably on their way to CSA. If there is one kind of sleep apnea that you should seek immediate treatment for it’s this one.


All 3 kinds of sleep apnea will appear the same as far as symptoms go. They all cause breathing to completely stop for short periods of time during sleep. That being said, they also carry all the same risks.

One of the biggest risks that come with any form of sleep apnea is heart disease. As you probably know heart disease is a big deal these days. These disorders are a major cause of it and most people never seek treatment. There is no reason to go on living with any form of sleep apnea. They are dangerous in more ways than one.


Knowing the difference between the 3 kinds of sleep apnea could really help you when you seek treatment. Besides the fact that each variety is dangerous and can cause health problems, you may be able to help your doctor.

Going to the doctor is like taking your car to a mechanic. The more you can tell them up front the more likely they are to solve your problem.

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