Do you snore on a regular basis? Have you recently been diagnosed with sleep apnea? It can be very difficult to live with irregular and interrupted sleep patterns as it leads to low productivity at work, sleepiness and daytime drowsiness. Additionally, not just you that snores suffer, but your bed partner is unable to get a proper sleep due to the constant noise. Thus, here is more information about sleep apnea. 

Like obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), central sleep apnea or CSA is a sleep-related breathing disorder.  However, unlike physical anomalies and attributes that are the cause of sleep apnea, CSA occurs when the brain fails to send signals to the muscles that control our breathing while we sleep.  It has been estimated that central sleep apnea affects nearly 1% of all Americans over the age of 40.  In many cases, it can be attributed to a more serious, underlying health issue.

If you don’t receive a central sleep apnea treatment, it can disturb your sleep and lead to daytime fatigue and sleepiness, an elevated risk of accidents and errors occurring, and problems concentrating and thinking.  As a sleep-related disorder, CSA is defined by an increased number of pauses or reductions in a person’s breathing while they sleep.  Interestingly enough, the interruptions in normal breathing caused by this disorder, can occur in a cyclical pattern or intermittently throughout the night.

While central sleep apnea involves interruptions in one’s breathing during sleep, this doesn’t always indicate that a person has the disorder as breathing pauses are often experienced by normal individuals who don’t suffer from the disorder.  In most cases, these interruptions are harmless and occur after a deep sigh or when an individual is transitioning from sleep to wakefulness.  In either case, they don’t meet the criteria for CSA or any other sleep-related breathing disorder.

Causes and Types of Central Sleep Apnea

Unlike the cause of sleep apnea, Central sleep apnea typically occurs when the brain fails to send signals to the muscles that control breathing.  It can be caused by several conditions that affect the abilities of a person’s brainstem.  This links the brain to the spinal cord and controls a number of different bodily functions such as breathing and heart rate.  The cause of CSA varies with the type of the disorder that a person has.  So, the proper central sleep apnea treatment will often vary.  These types include:

Cheyne-Stokes breathing – this type is commonly associated with congestive heart failure (CHF) or stroke and is usually characterized by gradual increases followed by decreases in airflow and breathing effort.  During the weakest effort, there is complete lack of airflow.

Drug-induced apnea – medications such as codeine, morphine, and oxycodone can often result in an increase or reduction in normal breathing patterns, irregular breathing, and a temporary cessation of breathing. You might want to discuss it with your doctor, if you have been prescribed any of these medications. 

High-altitude periodic breathing – if you’re at an extremely high altitude (e.g. flying or hiking), there’s a risk of a Cheyne-Stokes breathing pattern occurring.  The change in oxygen at high altitudes is the cause of hyperventilation (alternating rapid breathing) and under-breathing.

Idiopathic (primary) central sleep apnea – at this time, the cause of this uncommon form of CSA is unknown.

Medical condition-induced central sleep apnea – end-stage kidney disease, stroke, and several other medical conditions can cause CSA of the non- Cheyne-Stokes type.

Treatment-emergent central sleep apnea – obstructive sleep apnea sufferers may develop CSA while using a CPAP device.  This condition is commonly referred to as “treatment-emergent central sleep apnea” which is a combination of obstructive sleep apnea and CSA.

Once you’ve been diagnosed with CSA and the cause has been determined, your doctor or sleep therapist can prescribe the proper central sleep apnea treatment. Based on your specific case, the doctors will device a treatment plan to ensure you stay healthy. 

What are the Risk Factors of CSA?

There are a number of factors that can put you at an elevated risk of central sleep apnea.  These risk factors include:

  • Age – CSA is more common in older adults, especially those over the age of 60
  • Brain tumors, strokes, or structural brainstem lesions – these specific conditions can hinder the brain’s ability to regulate a person’s breathing
  • CPAP – some individuals who already suffer with obstructive sleep apnea and who use a CPAP device continually often develop a form of CSA known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea
  • Gender – CSA is more likely to develop in men than women
  • Heart disorders – individuals with atrial fibrillation and congestive heart failure are at an elevated risk of developing central sleep apnea
  • High altitudes – sleeping at an altitude higher than what a person is accustomed to can be a cause of sleep apnea or increase the risk of it occurring; this form of sleep apnea typically resolves itself a few weeks after returning to their normal altitude
  • Opioid use – certain opioid medications can increase a person’s risk of developing central sleep apnea. You might want to discuss this with your doctor if you have been snoring and have sleep related issues after the medications started. 

Central Sleep Apnea Treatment

There are a number of treatment modalities that can be used to treat central sleep apnea.  However, addressing any associated medical problems is typically the first step that physicians and sleep therapists recommend.  Some common treatments for CSA include the following:

  • Reduce opioid intake
  • Use a CPAP or BPAP
  • Use a medication that stimulates breathing such as acetazolamide
  • Use an ASV if CPAP doesn’t effectively treat the problem
  • Use supplemental oxygen when sleeping

Naturally, you should always consult with your doctor for central sleep apnea treatment recommendations.  For more information about Asonor Anti-snoring Solution, visit our website by clicking here, or e-mail us your questions at [email protected].

About Asonor Team

Asonor is the market leader in Denmark within its category. Asonor effect on snoring is clinically proven and was registered in 2005 by the health authorities in the EU. Today Asonor is registered by the health authorities in more than 70 countries. At Asonor, we aim to help you sleep comfortably, breathe easier and live healthier. We are the world leading brand in anti-snoring medicine, distributing worldwide through an expanding and highly successful network of distributors.


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