What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep Apnea is more common than most people think. Upwards of 18 million Americans suffer from it each year. Sleep Apnea occurs when there are small pauses in the patient’s breathing while they sleep. The pauses can last for a few seconds, or they can last up to a few minutes.
They generally occur 30 or more times per hour. They also greatly reduce the quality of your sleep. The three forms of sleep apnea are obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, and mixed sleep apnea (which is a combination of obstructive and central).
Central Sleep Apnea
Unlike with Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Central Sleep Apnea (or CSA) is caused by issues in the brain. The brain’s respiratory control centers are imbalanced when you sleep, which causes the pauses in your breathing. During the pauses in breathing, a person suffering from CSA doesn’t try to breathe. There’s no struggling for breath, and there’s not movement of the chest.
The following conditions are often associated with CSA:
- Congestive heart failure
- Hypothyroid Disease
- Kidney failure
- Neurological diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease
- Damage to the brainstem caused by encephalitis, stroke, injury, or other factors
Depending on how severe the Central Sleep Apnea is, several dangerous problems can occur. Since your brain isn’t signaling that you need to breathe, there is no air flow to your brain. Your brain, and body, can only survive without air for so long. If the pause in breathing is long enough, the oxygen levels in your body can drop the dangerous levels. Depending on how long the pause in breathing is, the low levels of oxygen can lead to brain damage, or even death.
If the CSA is associated with a disease, it can often be helped with the same treatments for obstructive sleep apnea. Some of the treatments include:
- Losing and maintaining a healthy weight
- Avoid alcohol and sleeping pills. They can make the airway more likely to collapse during sleep
- Sleeping on your side, possibly with pillows to prop you up
- Using nasal sprays or breathing strips to keep air flowing if you have sinus problems or nasal congestion
- Avoiding sleep deprivation
In other cases, a CPAP machine is needed to help the treatment.
If you think that you, or a loved one, are suffering from Central Sleep Apnea, Apnix Sleep Diagnostics can help. Simply schedule an appointment with one of our 8 Greater houston Area locations today.