Apnea is when you repeatedly stop breathing during sleep. Central Sleep Apnea occurs when the brain fails to transmit signals to your breathing muscles to start breathing again. It can be caused by conditions that affect the ability of your brain stem. The brain stem links your brain to your spinal cord which controls many body functions. The symptoms of central sleep apnea are similar to obstructive sleep apnea except if the symptoms are due to neurological conditions. It may then include difficulty in swallowing, voice changes or weakness or numbness through the body.

Central sleep apnea may be caused by:

  • Neurodegenerative illnesses
  • Arthritis
  • Obesity
  • Stroke
  • Complications of cervical spine surgery
  • Certain medications
  • Sleep at high altitudes
  • Patients with congestive heart failure
While less than 5% of sleep apnea cases are central sleep apnea, it is critical to be diagnosed and treated immediately. Treatment for central sleep apnea may involve drug treatment to stimulate breathing, supplementary oxygen or a relatively new PAP, adaptive servo ventilation.


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