Central Sleep Apnea, Its Causes and Its Treatment
Central Sleep apnea is a common condition affecting millions of individuals in the United States. It is a breathing disorder characterized by the cessation of respiration during sleep. Some people have these episodes a few times a night, while others may have them 20 or more times per hour.
Central Sleep Apnea Causes
One of the most common causes is obesity. When lying down, extra mass shifts upward toward the upper body and head, pinching the airway closed. The obvious treatment in these cases is weight loss. People with large necks also commonly suffer central sleep apnea.
Another cause of the disorder is a hiatal hernia, in which the stomach protrudes up through an opening in the diaphragm called the hiatus. This is also a widespread cause of reflux, which can cause sleep apnea. Acid vapors rise into the throat and are inhaled, causing irritation to the airway. The upward pressure of the dislocated stomach may also constrict the airway and keep it from opening properly when in a prone position. It may be necessary to remedy this condition as a prerequisite to the treatment of central sleep apnea.
Central sleep apnea can be a miserable disorder to live with. No matter how much one sleeps, deep sleep or REM sleep is not achieved. As a result, you spend all day feeling like a zombie with no energy to do anything. In many cases, this can lead to severe depression. Productivity is lost from reduced efficiency and even relationships may suffer.
Central Sleep apnea can have serious health effects. People who go untreated have a much higher risk of heart disease and an enlarged heart than average.
The most common form of treatment of sleep apnea is the use of a continuous positive airway pressure, CPAP, machine These devices are generally viewed as the preferred treatment of sleep apnea by most professionals. Risks and side effects are minimal and success rates are high. Some patients find the devices difficult to tolerate and may not comply with its use. A little patients and willingness to adapt and adjust in these cases may be the answer. CPAP machines are very expensive, but often covered by insurance.
Oral appliances. People who struggle with CPAP devices sometimes find that oral devices may help with the treatment of sleep apnea. Wearing an oral appliance designed to keep the throat open by bringing the jaw forward can, in many cases, be an effective treatment of sleep apnea. CPAP has generally been more effective than oral appliances, but oral appliances may be easier for some patients to use.
Though not commonly indicated as a sleep apnea treatment, many tonsillectomy patients find that their sleep apnea symptoms subside after surgery, as was my experience.