Types of Apnea

Types of Apnea

Obstructive apnea

The walls of the oropharynx are completely closed, generating an inspiratory collapse of more than 10 seconds.

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea, accounting for 84% of all sleep apnea diagnoses. 1

The upper airway may become obstructed by:

  • excessive relaxation of muscles during sleep, which prevents the passage of air properly
  • the weight of tissues in the oropharynx and neck contour that narrow the airway
  • tonsillitis or other temporary reasons
  • structural reasons, such as the shape of the nose, neck, or jaw


The walls are partially closed, decreasing the inlet diameter of the air passage for more than 10 seconds. There is no inspiratory collapse.


Neurologically, the breathing control center does not send the nerve stimulus to breathe. There is no obstruction or muscular respiratory effort.


Combination of central and obstructive apnea, with central and obstructive end.


Morgenthaler TI, Kagramanov V, Hanak V, Decker PA. Complex sleep apnea syndrome: is it a unique clinical syndrome? Sleep 2006;29(9):1203–9

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