If you often feel tired during the day even when you think you got a good night’s sleep, a condition called central sleep apnea could be the culprit. What is central sleep apnea? People who have central sleep apnea experience brief interruptions in breathing throughout the night. Over time, this can lead to daytime sleepiness as well as other health problems. Central sleep apnea is caused by an issue with the nervous system in which the brain doesn’t signal the body to breathe.

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Risk Factors for Central Sleep Apnea

This type of sleep apnea is associated with illnesses that impact the lower brain stem. It is more common among people who:

  • Are older than age 65
  • Are male
  • Have congestive heart failure, arrhythmia, kidney failure or hypothyroid disease
  • Have a neurological condition such as Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease
  • Sustained damage to the brainstem caused by stroke, tumor, encephalitis or injury
  • Use opioids

Sometimes central apnea occurs with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the more common form of this condition. Central apnea may develop with use of an OSA treatment called a CPAP machine.

Complications of Central Sleep Apnea

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with this condition, you’ve probably wondered “is sleep apnea dangerous?” The effects of sleep apnea can eventually lead to more serious health problems.

Over time, sleep apnea side effects can include feeling sleepy during the day, become moody and irritable or have trouble concentrating. This condition also impacts cardiac health by lowering blood oxygen, which damages the heart and causes arrhythmia.

If you experience symptoms such as morning headaches, chest pain, abrupt awakening and/or drowsiness and fatigue, schedule a consultation with the Michigan Head and Neck Institute. Call 586-473-6735 for an appointment at one of our convenient locations. We’ll conduct a thorough evaluation to determine whether apnea is the cause of your sleep issues and recommend a treatment plan that works with your lifestyle.