central sleep apneaAlong with obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea is one of the two main forms of sleep apnea, a dangerous class of sleep disorders characterized by an interruption of breathing of 10 seconds or more numerous times an hour during sleep.

Dangers of Central Sleep Apnea 

Although central sleep apnea is less common than obstructive sleep apnea, it is just as dangerous.

Central sleep apnea can result in severe morning headaches, daytime fatigue, anxiety, depression, short-term memory problems and difficulty focusing. 

Like obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea can also heighten your risk of serious health conditions. Sleep apnea has been linked to an increased risk for heart attack, heart disease, hypertension, stroke and diabetes among other problems.

Differences Between Obstructive and Central Sleep Apnea

Both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea feature episodes known as apneas or apneic events in which your breathing is interrupted multiple times during sleep.

While obstructive sleep apnea is the result of an airway blockage caused by relaxed throat muscles that allow tissue to collapse in the back of the throat, central sleep apnea is the result of your brain not properly relaying signals to the muscles involved in breathing.

Central sleep apnea is often associated with an illness that affects the lower brainstem, however this is not true for everyone who suffers from central sleep apnea.

Central Sleep Apnea Symptoms and Treatment

Unlike obstructive sleep apnea, loud, chronic snoring occurs rarely in people with central sleep apnea. Symptoms of central sleep apnea most commonly include:

  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Inability to sleep through the night
  • Frequent nighttime urination
  • Difficulty focusing while awake
  • Mood swings 

Treatment for central sleep apnea may also vary from treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. If central sleep apnea is the result of another medical problem, that condition may be addressed first.

If the apnea remains after the treatment of the causing condition, then sleep apnea may be addressed with the use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or a custom-made dental appliance.

A dentist who is experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea can assess your unique condition and help you determine the best treatment option for you.

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