Types of Sleep Apnea: OSA, CSA, and Mixed Apnea Symptoms

Central sleep apnea can develop for a number of reasons, including congestive heart failure, stroke, or even from sleeping at high altitudes or taking a high dose of opiate.

The symptoms of central sleep apnea can be similar to obstructive sleep apnea. According to the Mayo Clinic, they include:

What are the treatment options for central sleep apnea?

Treatment for central sleep apnea varies depending on why the sleep apnea occurs. For example, if central sleep apnea is caused by congestive heart failure, it would be treated with treatment for congestive heart failure, says Dr. Becker to SELF. Other treatments include supplemental oxygen, , opioid drug doses, or a therapy called bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP). BiPAP is a form of airway pressure therapy in which pressure is applied when inhaling and exhaling pressure.

What is Mixed Sleep Apnea?

Mixed sleep apnea is a form of sleep apnea that combines obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. Sometimes one form is more prevalent than the other, meaning someone has a little more of the obstructive sleep apnea component or a little more of the central sleep apnea component, says Dr. Becker.

What are the treatment options for mixed sleep apnea?

Typically, is used to treat mixed sleep apnea because, in many cases, this therapy can effectively treat both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. There are rare cases when treating obstructive sleep apnea with therapy can trigger what is known as complex sleep apnea (also known as treatment-induced central sleep apnea), doctors say. This is the case when someone with obstructive sleep apnea develops central sleep apnea as a result of treatment. Sometimes this is resolved with continued CPAP treatment, but in other cases additional treatments are required10.

Here’s what you should know about a sleep apnea diagnosis.

The severity of sleep apnea can from person to person. “Sleep apnea affects everyone differently,” says Dr. Holfinger. “While some people may have severe symptoms with very few sleep apnea events, others may not find that their sleep is impaired at all with severe sleep apnea.”

Research3 shows that more than 80% of people with obstructive sleep apnea go undiagnosed. This may be due to a lack of awareness of sleep apnea risk factors and low screening rates in people with comorbidities like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure.

Doctors use a number of different assessments to help identify and diagnose sleep apnea. This may include a sleep history that examines your typical sleep patterns and habits, symptoms, a physical exam and a polysomnogram, a sleep study that can be done at home or in a sleep center to collect data on measures such as airflow, carbon dioxide levels, Oxygen levels, eye movements and heart rate. These measures will help your doctor understand whether or not you have sleep apnea and what type of sleep apnea you have.

These days, sleep studies are becoming increasingly common at home, which allows people to do these tests from the comfort of their own home, says Dr. Becker to SELF. If you suspect that you or a loved one may have sleep apnea, it is important to see a doctor, as diagnosing and treating sleep apnea is important to avoid future complications. Treatment can not only help you feel better, but it can also help you proactively maintain your overall health.


1. Nature and Science of Sleep, Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Current Perspectives
2. Journal of Thoracic Disease, obstructive sleep apnea is a common disorder in the population
3. Expert review on cardiovascular therapy, risk reduction for cardiovascular diseases with sleep apnea treatment
4. Chinese Medical Journal, Treatment – Emergent Central Sleep Apnea: A Unique Sleep Disordered Breathing


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