Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by frequent or intermittent disturbance of sleep due to breathing difficulties. There are several types one of which is central sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea causes ranges from drug reaction, congestive heart failure, high-altitude, opioids, and hormonal fluctuations in premenopausal women.
So what is central sleep apnea? It is a form of sleep apnea characterized by diminished or absence of breath for close for 10-30 seconds in a clearly defined cycle or intermittently.
Central sleep apnea is strongly associated with dips in blood oxygen saturation. A slight difference in the normal amount of blood oxygen will always have a negative impact on the brain as it consumes most of the oxygen transported by blood. There is a feedback mechanism that controls respiration, this mechanism can only work effectively when the ‘control house’-the brain is working at optimum capacity.
Central sleep apnea(CSA) may also be a symptom or an indication of malformations in the body one of which is the Arnold-ChiariMalformation (a condition that affects the brain through the displacement of cerebellar tonsils through the foramen magnum). One of the signs you see when you have CSA is absence of chest movement which may be accompanied with sense of panic associated with heightened blood CO2 levels. Another symptom which central sleep apnea causes is fast irregular breathing, this usually happens to compensate for oxygen to the brain and the breathing muscles.
There are two breathing patterns associated with CSA which are Cheyne-Stokes breathing pattern and non-Cheyne-Stokes breathing pattern.
Premature infants, obese patients, men with wide neck and enlarged or extra tonsilar tissues are at a higher risk of developing CSA.
CSA has been attributed with several emergencies which may occur in severe cases of the sleep disorder. Central sleep apnea causes sudden infant death syndrome, angina pain, irregular heart beat (arrhythmias), heart attack, increases blood carbon dioxide levels, breathing irregularities.
Causes of central sleep apnea
The following are the causes of central sleep apnea:
1. Stroke or brain tumor
The brain controls the respiration center which signals the movement, relaxation and contracting of chest muscles. When this function is impaired it may result in breathing irregularities.
CSA may also be induced by certain drugs with tranquilizing effect. Such drugs includes but not limited to barbiturates, oxycodone,opioids, morphine sulfate and benzodiazepines.
Alcohol consumption has been linked to high incidences of sleep apnea, high concentration of alcohol in the blood may cause nerve death as well as cause several degenerations in the body. One of the most affected organs in the body is the lungs.
4. High altitudes
When climbing high altitude you may experience irregular breathing pattern of the cheyne-stokes type.
5. Parkinsons’ disease
It’s also a Cause of central sleep apnea.
6. Brain inflammation
Brain inflammation such encephalitis (a condition characterized by accumulation of fluid under the protective covering of the brain).
People who has CSA don’t have blocked airways like in obstructive sleep apnea but irregular breathing is caused by miscommunication between the brain and the respiration center in the brain.