Central Sleep Apnea: A Quick Lesson
Sleep apnea generally refers to irregular breathing or a lack of airflow during sleep. There are different types of sleep apnea: obstructive and central, for example. It is a disorder where your breathing becomes irregular while you sleep because of the signals your brain sends to the muscles involved in breathing. Obstructive problems occurs due to restriction in the upper airway. Though their results are the same, the causes differ. It can also be a result of other conditions, like heart failure or stroke.
How can someone know if they have sleep apnea?
Well, there are certain signs and symptoms that go along with central sleep apnea. These include, but are not limited to: observed cases of breathing starting and stopping during sleep, waking up feeling short of breath, insomnia, chest pain at night, and shortness of breath alleviated by sitting up.
What are some of the things that might cause sleep apnea?
Opioid medication (i.e. morphine, oxycodone, codeine, etc.) can cause irregular breathing. Additionally, high altitudes and Cheyne-Stokes breathing can cause it. Cheyne-Stokes breathing is involved with stroke and heart failure. At the point where the weakest breathing occurs, absence of airflow may follow along with it.
Who is most at risk of acquiring central sleep apnea?
People with this condition tend to be male, be older adults (>65 years, especially), have a heart disorder, have a brain condition (like strokes, brain damage due to a tumor), and/or use CPAP machines.
CPAP machines are used to treat obstructive sleep apnea, and the acronym stands for acronym: continuous positive airway pressure. These machines use a mask that pump air into your upper airway to prevent closure of the airway. When someone with obstructive issues develops central sleep issue because of the use of CPAP, the condition is called mixed sleep apnea. However, continued use of the CPAP machine or a CPAP alternative can be used to treat these conditions.
Can having sleep apnea cause any other conditions?
Because sleep apnea causes a quick drop in oxygen intake, heart health can be affected, leading to cardiovascular problems. Aside from that, it can cause fatigue due to the continued interruption of sleep.
How does someone confirm if they have central sleep apnea?
You can have a sleeping test done at a sleep disorder center. At this center, you will go through a polysomnography. What this means is that your vitals are monitored as well as leg and eye movements while you sleep. This helps a specialist diagnose disorders such as this, as well as disorders such as narcolepsy.
How can someone treat central sleep apnea?
This depends on the cause. For those that have central issue due to opioid medications, your dose may have to be reduced. CPAP machines may be used for some, while adaptive servo-ventilation (ASV) and bilevel positive airway pressure (BPAP) may be better for others. ASV uses a mask and pump, like CPAP, but adjusts the amount of air on a breath-by-breath basis. BPAP operates in a similar way, but only changes the pressure when you breathe in vs. when you breathe out. Both ASV and BPAP can also automatically deliver breaths, if a breath isn’t detected after a certain amount of time. Finally, supplemental oxygen and medication (i.e. acetazolamide) can be used for sleep apnea.