Central Sleep Apnea
Understanding Central Sleep Apnea
And its differences which form other forms of sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a medical condition where you stop breathing during sleep. We all know the effects if you stop breathing. You’ll surely suffer from lack of oxygen in the body and eventually die. We might have tried holding our breath when submerged under water or swimming or just playfully doing it while we were young and have a contest with our friends on who can hold his breath the longest. You might have experienced the sense of suffocating and how you struggle to breathe again to keep yourself alive. Good thing, though, that you are awake and conscious while doing this. Imagine the difference and how the situation could turn from bad to worse if it happens when you are asleep and helpless.
There are four types of sleep apnea, namely:
● Central Sleep Apnea
● Obstructive Sleep Apnea
● Mixed Sleep Apnea
● Complex Sleep Apnea
Among the four types, only complex sleep apnea has comprehensive treatments available but still no known cure. In obstructive sleep apnea, people stop breathing because there is an obstruction in the airway while they sleep. Most of the time these obstructions are the muscles of the nose and the tongue that involuntarily recede to the back of the head while we sleep. Our brain will then send a signal to the body to lift the muscle up so that normal breathing could resume.
Central sleep apnea, on the other hand, is a totally different case. There is no obstruction or distraction for our breathing, but the brain simply stops signaling the body to breathe. It is more like every time you breathe in, the brain stops, then you breathe out. Normally there is minimal or no stoppage of the cycle of breathing in and breathing out, but in central sleep apnea there is.
Medically known as the Cheyne-Stokes Respiration, this temporary stoppage of breathing puts a lot of pressure on the other organs of the body to function well at night amidst the low level of oxygen supplied to them. Unlike obstructive sleep apnea, which is caused by a blockage of the airway, the problem with central sleep apnea lies on the brain stem itself. The brain stem is responsible for giving the signal to the body to continue breathing. When this malfunctions, there will be a cessation of the breathing procedure leading to a depleted oxygen supply in the body.
Even snoring, which is a simple sign of sleep apnea, is not present in central sleep apnea. The most common causes of this disorder are:
● Severe obesity
● Medications that contains narcotics
● Radiation of the cervical spine
● Severe arthritis
● Congestive heart failure
● Parkinson’s Disease
● Alzheimer’s Disease
● Injury acquired by accident to the brain stem
Symptoms may vary including common ones that we think are quite normal, but what we do not know is that there are underlying conditions behind them. Such symptoms include feeling tired and drained of energy during the day, waking up several times during the night, frequent urination at night, and having throbbing headaches in the early morning. In addition, as a result of the lack of sleep other symptoms of poor memory, lack of concentration, including mood swings.
It is hard for you to recognize the symptoms alone but your partner can. They will be the one that will be able to tell and witness your difficulty in breathing while you are asleep. When you or your partner suspects that you are suffering from sleep apnea, you better see the doctor promptly and resolve the problem rather than just sleep it out and eventually risking not waking up in the morning anymore.