Neurological Connection to Central Sleep Apnea

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Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which breathing stops or becomes shallow temporarily. These pauses in breathing can occur dozens of times each hour during sleep. There are two forms of sleep apnea, Obstructive sleep apnea and Central sleep apnea. Although Obstructive sleep apnea is the more common form of sleep apnea, Central sleep apnea has a strong correlation to the brain, whereas Obstructive sleep apnea is due to blockage in airway. According to the National Library of Medicine, “Central sleep apnea [occurs] when you repeatedly stop breathing during sleep because the brain temporarily stops sending signals to the muscles that control breathing”. What causes Central sleep apnea?

Central sleep apnea often occurs in people who are seriously ill. For example, it can develop in persons who have life-threatening problems with the brainstem. The brainstem controls breathing. As a result, any disease or injury affecting this area may result in problems with normal breathing during sleep or when awake.

Conditions that can cause central sleep apnea include:

* Bulbar poliomyelitis
* Complications of cervical spine surgery
* Encephalitis affecting the brainstem
* Neurodegenerative illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease
* Radiation of the cervical spine
* Severe arthritis and degenerative changes in the cervical spine or the base of the skull
* Stroke affecting the brainstemPrimary hypoventilation syndrome
* Use of certain medications such as painkillers

There are different options available to those who suffer from central sleep apnea. The Department of Neurology at NorthShore University HealthSystem, for example, offers many options for treatment, which start with carious diagnostic tests.

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One Response to “Neurological Connection to Central Sleep Apnea”
  1. kyle says:

    I used to have nightmares about dieing in my sleep because my brain was not receiving enough oxygen at night. Since my laser surgery I have nor problems due to breathing or snoring or what have you. Noww my sleeping problems have to do with stress and other such problems but I was blogging yesterday and found an awesome site for living better and improving sleep:

    http://letslivelonger.blogspot.com/2009/04/sleep-better-you-can-do-it.html

    i’m feeling a little better, thank you!

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