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If I Have Central Sleep Apnea, What Treatment Options Are There?

Central sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that affects breathing while you sleep. If you’ve been recently diagnosed, you may be wondering what’s next. If I have central sleep apnea, what treatment options are there?

Central sleep apnea occurs because your brain doesn’t send the appropriate signals to the muscles responsible for breathing as you sleep. It is different from obstructive sleep apnea which is caused by a blockage in the air passageway. A central sleep apnea diagnosis can come with a range of emotions, be it relief that you finally have answers for your poor sleep, fear about the seriousness of the condition or wondering if it will improve. Luckily, there are many treatment options available, from lifestyle changes to minimally invasive solutions to more permanent options like surgery.

The first step to treating central sleep apnea is to identify and address underlying causes. Obesity and heart disease are both related to central sleep apnea; losing weight and making heart-healthy lifestyle changes can help alleviate central sleep apnea’s symptoms. Other adjustments, like lowering alcohol consumption or changing sleeping positions, can also reduce your symptoms.

If lifestyle changes alone do not adequately manage your central sleep apnea symptoms, the next treatment option is a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. CPAP therapy involves wearing a mask over your nose and mouth at night while you sleep. The machine delivers a steady stream of air pressure, keeping your airways open to prevent pauses in breathing.

Another treatment option is adaptive servo-ventilation─ASV. ASV therapy also uses a machine to adjust the pressure of the air you inhale as you sleep. ASV is slightly more sophisticated than CPAP, in that it monitors your breathing patterns and adjusts the air pressure accordingly, tailoring the air pressure to your exact needs in that exact moment.

Finally, surgery is an option in some central sleep apnea cases. A pulse generator is implanted near the chest, which stimulates the phrenic nerve responsible for moving the diaphragm. The nerve impulse signals to the body to breathe.

Questions about your sleep apnea diagnosis or what treatment option is right for you? With over 45 years of caring for sleep apnea patients, visit Biltmore ENT to find the treatment plan that’s right for you. Call (602) 560-1085 to schedule an appointment.