What is the Difference Between Obstructive and Central Sleep Apnea?

What is the Difference Between Obstructive and Central Sleep Apnea? by San Antonio, TX sleep expert Dr. Richard Drake.

What is the Difference Between Obstructive and Central Sleep Apnea?

Hi, I’m Dr. Richard Drake with Dr. Drake’s Sleep Solutions. And I want to talk to you for a second about the difference between obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.

If you’ve had a sleep study done and your doctor has mentioned that to you, and you’re wondering, what does that mean? Well, simply put, obstructive sleep apnea is I’m trying to breathe, but I can’t get air into my lungs. If I reach over there and choke you hard enough, you can try to breathe as much as you want, but you can’t get air into your lungs. That thing that gets in the way, that tongue. So when I snore and I do that, my tongue blocks my airway. And now, I have an obstruction trying to breathe.

A central sleep apnea, on the other hand, is where my brain forgets to tell me to breathe. We have this part in our brain stem that creates that little artery drive breathe, don’t breathe, breathe, don’t breathe. Fortunately, we don’t have to think about that. But when that goes haywire, then we get into what’s called central sleep apnea. And we treat that a little bit differently than we do obstructive sleep apnea.