Symptoms and Causes of Central Sleep Apnea

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There are two types of apnea. The first one is obstructive sleep apnea, caused by blockage in the breathing airways. The obstruction leads to pauses of breathing during sleep. This condition is treatable using a CPAP machine. This machine delivers constant flow of air into the mouth and or the nose through a hose. The sufferer has to wear a mask because it receives pressured air from the hose.

Central Sleep Apnea

What is central sleep apnea?

Unlike obstructive sleep apnea, this particular condition is caused by the inability of the brain to regulate breathing during sleep. As we know, the brain plays a crucial role in the movements that we make, voluntary or involuntary. In this case, the brain doesn’t send signal to the muscles to breathe.


Central sleep apnea is more prevalent in people over the age 65. This is because older people are more susceptible to diseases, so they are at a higher risk of developing this condition. It’s also more common in men than women. The presence of a tumor in the brain may also be a contributing factor of its inability to control breathing.

Another condition that may lead to central sleep apnea is heart disorders. So if you happen to have a heart condition and sleep apnea at the same time, there is a chance that the two are related. Sleeping on the plane can also be the trigger. Being at a high altitude is quite a different experience from stepping on the ground. The body tries to adapt to the change of pressure, and one of those changes may affect your breathing. This is usually temporary if the difficulty breathing is caused by this.


Symptoms of central sleep apnea include shortness of breath, daytime sleepiness, extreme tiredness, headaches, poor sleep quality, trouble concentrating, and snoring. If you experience some of the symptoms all at once, you should consult your physician since they could stem from this condition.


In obtrusive sleep apnea, the primary concern is usually clearing up the blockage. It can be done using CPAP or another approach. In CSA, however, the blockage doesn’t exist. Therefore, the treatment should be focused on treating the condition that has caused it. For example, if it’s caused by an increase in altitude, the person just needs to wait until the plane lands.

Actually, CPAP is also useful for this condition. As the brain fails to signal the body to breathe, delivering pressured air into the airways can keep your brain alert. However, this doesn’t really address the root of the cause, which means the problem will be right back when the use of this device is stopped.