Although Obstructive and Central Sleep Apnea are considered distinct categories of sleep apnea disorders the two have very similar health consequences. In both circumstances, the individual will experience long pauses in breathing often with gasps for air in between breaths while asleep. This can be very disconcerting to the sufferer’s partner, and these symptoms should not be ignored.
Sufferers of both Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) often feel depressed, irritable, lethargic, and can be more accident prone during the day. With long pauses in between breaths, the body is deprived of the oxygen in the bloodstream it desperately needs to replenish your mental and physical energy reserves.
CSA is caused by a neurological problem. Essentially, for reasons often unexplained by researchers your body does not send the proper electrical signals to your body to trigger the muscle response needed to maintain a proper breathing rate. CSA can be more difficult to treat than OSA because issues involving the brain are almost always more complex than health issues arising elsewhere in the body.
On the other hand, OSA is a problem that is physical in origin. Typically, there is some sort of obstruction that is located in the airway that is preventing you from breathing properly. In cases of OSA, the airway can lose muscle tone when the body relaxes during sleep and becomes pinched. As the individual breathes in and out strong vibrations occur as the air attempts to pass through this very narrow space. This often manifests itself as the most common symptom of OSA, which is snoring. In fact, many people are completely unaware that they may have OSA until they begin searching for advice on how to stop snoring. CSA sufferers typically do not snore at night and are less likely to show obvious symptoms.
It’s important to note that CSA is much less common than OSA. Central Sleep Apnea affects only about 5% of all apnea sufferers, and even less common is a third disorder known as Mixed Apnea Disorder which essentially OSA and CSA occurring at the same time. Obstructive Sleep Apnea is much more treatable than Central Sleep Apnea because of it’s physical origin. There are a number of stop snoring mouthpieces, and other anti-snoring devices that are prescribed that can help treat OSA. Vocal exercises can also help to alleviate OSA by strengthening the muscle tone in the airway. In fact, it’s often suggested that playing the didgeridoo can help to strengthen these muscles and alleviate these symptoms. Furthermore, in extreme cases there are a number of surgeries depending on the location and severity of the obstruction that can be performed as a more permanent solution to the problem.
If you are suffering from Central Sleep Apnea you will most likely be treated with a CPAP or BiPAP device. These anti-snoring devices work by blowing pressurized air into your lungs so even if the muscles responsible for breathing fail to contract air will still be forced into your lungs. Many individuals find these devices extremely uncomfortable, but many of these complaints can often be remedied by choosing a properly fitted CPAP mask and developing healthy sleeping habits.
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