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Just What is Central Sleep Apnea?

May 22, 2008
Many people today are familiar with the condition of sleep apnea; the word "apnea" simply refers to a temporary stoppage of breathing and so sleep apnea is when a person stops breathing for a few moments during sleep. What most people don't know, however, is that there are two main types - obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.

While obstructive sleep apnea is somewhat self-explanatory - it results from an obstruction in the throat or sinuses such as excessive tissue around the soft palate (the area on the roof of the mouth near the back) or a sinus infection and so on, central sleep apnea refers to an actual defect in the way the brain signals the body to breathe while sleeping. Even though this type of sleep apnea is less common it is still very dangerous and can even be deadly.

Common Causes of Central Sleep Apnea

Obviously the cause of central sleep apnea will be different for each patient or sufferer but common causes include radiation treatment to the area of the spine, surgery of the spine or areas surrounding it, and encephalitis. Encephalitis is a swelling or inflammation of the brain and can be very dangerous and even deadly on its own, however, it also interferes with the body's signals to the respiratory system that keep a body breathing.

This is the difficulty and danger with central sleep apnea; many people don't realize that the body needs to tell itself to breathe at all times in order for the lungs to work properly. Brain damage or damage to the spine that carries these signals telling the body how to work can result in no signal to breathe.

Treating Central Sleep Apnea

As of right now there is no cure for central sleep apnea; scientists still have much work to do when it comes to mapping out the brain and treating disorders of it and the spine. However there are some things that a patient or sufferer can do.

For one, the use of a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine may be helpful. These machines push oxygen into the lungs on a continuous and regular basis. There are also some medications one might take such as acerazlamide and theophyllinr, which stimulate the body's need to breathe.

In any circumstance a patient with central sleep apnea needs to be in constant contact with their doctor and follow their recommendations carefully.
About the Author
Lisa Davies is a freelance writer. For more information about sleep apnea visit our site Snoring Remedies at http://www.snorelesssleepmore.com
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