Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleeping disorders that affect millions of people from all over the world. People who are suffering from this condition will not be able to enjoy a good night’s sleep because their breathing will get automatically stopped when they are asleep. A series of repeated pauses, known as apneic events, is responsible for the sudden stoppage of breathing in the case of sleep apnea patients.
Sleep apnea can be divided into three categories: complex or mixed sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, and obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of sleep apnea and it usually occurs when the muscles in your throat relax due to snoring or other related issues.
Central sleep apnea is other commonly seen disorder that occurs when your brain does not send the right signals to the muscles, which control breathing. On the other hand, mixed or complex sleep apnea is a combination of both central and obstructive sleep apnea but they are not that common.
The condition of sleep apnea can bring serious health disorders and diseases to the patient if left untreated. For instance, people who are suffering from sleep apnea are at a greater risk of heart diseases, diabetes, obesity, stroke, and more. In addition to that, some people with sleep apnea also fall asleep during the daytime, as they are unable to sleep at night. This in turn increases the chance of accidents while driving.
Central Sleep Apnea
The condition of central sleep apnea is very much different from obstructive sleep apnea. In the case of CSA, the breathing of patients is disrupted when they are asleep due to the way in which their brain functions. This is because the brain will not send signals to your muscles that are responsible for breathing.
This type of central sleep apnea is typically several serious illnesses. The lower brainstem of patients who are suffering from central sleep apnea will not function smoothly. The pause in breathing due to central sleep apnea may last for about 20 seconds in just infants.
The Risk of CSA
The condition of central sleep apnea is reported to be a lot more common in older adults, particularly the ones who are above the age of 65. These people suffer from CSA because of their other medical conditions and due to their sleeping patterns. Another important point to remember is that men are at a greater risk of central and obstructive sleep apnea than women.
It is true that being overweight is considered as a risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea by both sleep analysts and health care providers. However, several experts in the field of medical science claim that being obese is not a risk factor when it comes to central sleep apnea.
Central sleep apnea is generally associated with a number of health conditions and disorders. However, one particular form of CSA is not associated with any diseases and its cause is still unknown to healthcare providers. Some of the most common conditions that are associated with central sleep apnea are the following.
- Neurological diseases like Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.
- Kidney failure
- Hypothyroid diseases
- Congestive heart failure
- Brainstem damage due to stroke, injury, or encephalitis
Symptoms of CSA
Even though snoring is one of the mainly reported symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, it is usually not present in individuals who are suffering from central sleep apnea. However, sudden and short stoppages of breathing when you are asleep are common in patients with both OSA and CSA. Some of the lesser-known symptoms of central sleep apnea are as follows.
- Mood swings
- Difficulty to concentrate and poor memory
- Headaches in the morning
- Waking up at regular intervals at night
- Feeling tired during the daytime
If you have any of the above-mentioned symptoms or if you are unable to sleep properly at night due to snoring or other sleeping disorders, it is best to get in touch with a health care provider as soon as possible. The health care provider will initially assess your medical history and run a few tests to see if you are suffering from any form of sleep apnea or not.
In some cases, health care providers may also ask you to undergo an overnight sleep study, which is known as polysomnogram. This test is usually performed under the supervision of expert technologists or sleep analysts. During the test, the healthcare provider will monitor the following body functions of your body.
- Blood oxygen levels
- Breathing patterns
- Heart rate
- Muscle activities
- Eye movements
- Brain’s electrical activities
Once the test is completed, healthcare providers will count the number of times your breathing is impaired to identify the severity of your sleep apnea.