CPAP for central sleep apnea

Can A CPAP Help Treat Central Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea occurs when a person stops breathing while they are asleep. There are two main categories of sleep apnea: central and obstructive. In obstructive sleep apnea, the openness of the airway is obstructed by a physical mass or a collapse of the airway. When it comes to central sleep apnea, however, the brain is the cause of breathing cessation and is often associated with Cheyne-Stokes respiration.

In patients who suffer from central sleep apnea, the control centers in the brain that relate to respiration becomes imbalanced. The mechanism in the brain that controls neurological feedback does not respond to carbon dioxide and blood levels in the body fast enough to successfully control the patient’s rate of respiration. When the respiratory centers in the brain malfunction, breathing stops for a period of time and then starts again. Because the respiratory system is managed by the brain, it responds to commands sent by the brain. If the brain does not tell the body to breath, the body makes no effort to do so; there is no struggle for breath during central apneas. Rate of breath may become much faster after an apnea episode because the body is attempting to absorb more oxygen.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure is one of the most effective treatments for obstructive sleep apnea, but it is not a suitable method of treatment for those who suffer from neuromuscular diseases like central sleep apnea. CPAP machines create and maintain a constant pressurized stream of oxygen that keeps the airway open. Constant air pressure is not appropriate for people with central apnea because it causes the means that the user has to breathe with more strength to exhale against the pressure. The pressurized air will continue to be produced with a CPAP machine, even during an episode of central apnea when the body is making no attempt to breathe.

BiPAP therapy, or bi-level positive airway pressure, is a more effective treatment for neurologically caused apnea; it is also called VPAP therapy (Variable Positive Airway Pressure). The machine registers the rate of inspiration and exhalation of the user, and it adjusts the level of pressure expelled to meet the needs of the user. Unlike CPAP therapy that produces at air at one constant pressure, BiPAP therapy produces two different levels of pressure. The pressure of the air is higher during inspiration and lower during exhalation.

A BiPAP machine is a lot like a CPAP machine; the makeup of the machine consists of a small machine that gets plugged into an electrical outlet, hosing or tubing that delivers the air, and a face mask that is applied to the mouth/nose of the user.

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