Central sleep apnea, one of the least common of the 3 types of sleep apnea, occurs when your brain cannot successfully send messages to your breathing muscles. Milder cases are often overlooked as symptoms may often be diagnosed as mild insomnia, chronic migraines, or just a bad case of snoring. If you experience any of these symptoms, or notice mood changes, difficulty focusing during the day, shortness or breath, waking up often in the middle of the night, or abnormal breathing patterns, you should consult with your doctor and find out if a sleep study would be appropriate for you.
Central sleep apnea is often caused by other medical conditions such as heart conditions or strokes, certain medications, or high altitudes for long periods of time. In some rare cases, it can even be caused by being on a CPAP machine for extended periods of time.
Central sleep apnea can have long and short term effects such as fatigue and cardiovascular problems. Due to the lack of oxygen getting to the blood during events, especially when left untreated, people with central sleep apnea may experience an increased risk of abnormal heart rhythms.
Depending on the results of your sleep study and your medical history, your doctor may prescribe different solutions. Most people would be set up with a CPAP or BiPAP, which assists with breathing during sleep. Some people may also be given medications that help stimulate breathing or prescribed supplemental oxygen for night use only. Finding what works best for you may take some time and your doctor may want to address other health concerns related to the sleep apnea before going with a CPAP or BiPAP.
Always keep a dialogue open with your doctor so that they are made aware of any changes to your health, even if they seem small to you. Sleep apnea is a serious condition, but with the right treatment plan, it can be manageable for you!