Central, Complex, And Obstructive Sleep Apnea Symptoms: Knowing The Difference

Have you ever wondered how obstructive sleep apnea symptoms are different from other types of sleep apnea? There are certain symptoms that all types have, and there others that are distinct in the certain type.

There are actually three types of sleep apnea. These are complex sleep apnea (CompSA), central sleep apnea (CSA), and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Below, you will find their descriptions and their list of symptoms.

The Three Types Of Sleep Apnea And Their Symptoms

Central Sleep Apnea

  • The incapacity of the brain to control or regulate the breathing pattern during sleep
  • Pauses in breathing
  • Suddenly waking up short of breath
  • Insomnia (trouble sleeping)
  • Hypersomnia (sleepiness during the day)
  • Unfocused
  • Depression
  • Mood swings

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

  • The obstruction of the airway
  • Pauses in breathing
  • Loud snoring
  • Choking during sleep
  • Unfocused
  • Hypersomnia (sleepiness during the day)
  • Depression
  • Mood swings

Complex Sleep Apnea

  • The combination of both CSA and OSA
  • Usually, the individual develops CSA, after OSA complications
  • Displays all types of sleep apnea symptoms

Out of all the three, obstructive sleep apnea symptoms affect the majority of the condition’s cases. It is the most common, compared to the other two. CSA affects a small portion of cases, and CompSA is the rarest of the three.


From the information given above, you can clearly see that CSA is a neurological problem, OSA is physical, and CompSA is both. Choking and snoring are the most distinctive obstructive sleep apnea symptoms.

The only way to be certain is through a polysomnography or the study of sleep. A polysomnography, through data gathering of the activities you make in sleep, is the best way to determine what kind of sleeping disorder you might have.

Factors Behind OSA Symptoms

Since OSA is the most common, and affects most people, there are common factors behind this type of sleep apnea.

Here are those factors:


  • Being overweight will cause the loss of muscle tone in the body, including the muscles in the airway
  • Losing muscle tone is the reason behind the over relaxing of the airway muscles
  • Obesity is also responsible for the buildup of fatty tissue around the airway, which further narrows it

Physical Features

  • Certain physical features in the jaw, throat, face, nose, and head can obstruct the airway

In any case, all of these symptoms can be an ordeal to experience. Having this sleeping condition immediately treated will be vital.

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