You Are At: AllSands Home > Health > Diseases > Central sleep apnea syndrome: symptoms and treatment
Do you wake up every morning feeling like you just didn’t get a good night’s rest? And then find yourself going through your work day in a daze, or with a headache, or struggling to stay civil with co-workers? Is driving becoming a problem? Do you find yourself drifting off behind the wheel, and then once you get home find you’re too tired to pay much attention to your spouse, or to your kids?

If you display even a few of these symptoms, chances are you’re suffering from sleep apnea. This is a condition where people stop breathing for very short intervals of time during their normal sleep periods. Over the course of a single night these interruptions can happen up to 400 times. Breathing may cease entirely for up to 3 minutes. You wake up, gasping for breath. Once breathing is restored, you drift off again. Within a few minutes it happens again. This cycle continues, all night long, night after night.

There are two types of sleep apnea -- obstructive and central. Obstructive apnea is the most common and is caused by something blocking the windpipe -- the tongue, tonsils, or uvula (the little dangle of flesh at the very back of the throat). Fatty tissue or lax throat muscles may also cause a blockage.

Central apnea involves the nervous system and is much more rare. The muscles used to breathe get mixed or confused signals from the brain, or the signal might be interrupted. Simply put, the muscles aren’t told when it’s “okay” to breathe.

See you doctor as soon as possible if you think you suffer from sleep apnea. He’ll probably ask you if you snore, suffer from morning headaches, mood changes, decreased interest in sex, forget-fulness, and daytime fatigue. He may decide to send you to a sleep centre to have your sleep patterns monitored and a positive diagnosis made.

There are various treatments available. Surgery, either conventional or laser, is used to cut away or shrink the tissue causing obstructions in the throat. Non-surgical treatment usually consists of a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device. This is a mask the patient wears during sleep that sends a light stream of air pressure into the throat. If the mask doesn’t work there’s also a dental appliance option called the mandibular splint. Inserted into the mouth before you go to bed it keeps the jaw and tongue more stable and prevents any possible throat blockage.

Studies indicate that 2% of women and 4% of men suffer from sleep apnea. Short term sleep interruptions aren’t usually harmful. But if they persist and go untreated your professional and personal life will likely suffer. And the risk of heart attack or stroke rises.

A few other things you should do if you have sleep apnea: if you’re taking sleeping aids of any kind, stop. Sleep on your side instead of your back. If you’re overweight try to shed some pounds.

The sooner you begin following a course of treatment for sleep apnea the better. You’ll notice the difference in no time and wake up feeling much more refreshed and looking forward to the coming day.