Calling Dr. Bauer …
Most of us know friends or relatives who are being treated for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). During sleep, the muscles in the back of the throat (the tongue, tonsils and soft palate) become abnormally soft, weak and flaccid. This, in turn, blocks the air passages repeatedly, causing a poor quality sleep and loud snoring. CPAP is often the best friend of an OSA patient.
There is a different kind of sleep apnea called central apnea (CA). It’s much less common, but still seen most often in patients with heart disease such as congestive heart failure or patients with neurologic disease such as stroke. Rather than the sudden gasps and snorts of OSA, the breathing during sleep in CA is distinctly different. Called Cheyne Stokes breathing, it is marked by a slow gentle increase in breathing effort, followed by a slow decrease in effort, followed by a complete cessation of breathing. This repeats over and over, resulting in oscillations in oxygen levels up and down during sleep.
The cause of CA has nothing to do with muscle weakness in the throat. Somehow, the control centers for breathing, deep in the brain, fail to regulate respiratory rate and depth of breathing appropriately. Sometimes CPAP or BIPAP can be helpful, but the best treatment is to fix the underlying disease if possible.
Happy dreams to all our Pulmonary Paper readers in 2014!
Sleep Apnea Support
- The American Sleep Apnea Association is a non-profit organization that advocates for the interests of people with sleep
- Philips Respironics markets equipment to treat sleep apnea, and offers information at sleepapnea.com
- ResMed, another equipment provider offers, wakeuptosleep.com