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Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

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Suggest treatment for central sleep apnea

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Dr. Karen Steinberg

Internal Medicine Specialist

Practicing since :1981

Answered : 824 Questions

so I am suffering from central sleep apnea I believe. ..I wake up and gasp for air at least 5-20 times before I can actually go to only happens or I'm only aware of it when I'm transisioning from awake to sleep..the more I read up on it I find that it is most likely due to a heart Condition or congestive heart I look at the symptoms alot of them relate to me. I have been feeling pretty bad for the past like month or so been to doc numerous times and to the emergency room for palpitations...they keep telling me it's anxiety and stress. I also had a complete echo a ekg and stress test done within the last year because of the palps..I guess I want to know could I have developed congestive heart failure within the lates year and how do all my tests keep.coming back ok when I obviously have something going on...all blood work was good also
please help
Mon, 11 Aug 2014 in General Health
Answered by Dr. Karen Steinberg 1 hour later
Brief Answer:
Recommend a sleep study

Detailed Answer:
Hi, thank you for using Healthcare Magic.

To diagnose any type of sleep apnea, it is best to have a complete sleep study. This test will identify how low your oxygen level is going while you are asleep. You could be having episodes you are not aware of during deeper sleep, which the test would also identify. The studies you had for your heart should identify congestive heart failure. It can also be identified on exam, and it sounds like you have been seen several times and no one has diagnosed it, so I do not think this is your problem. It is true that sleep apnea can eventually result in heart failure and other problems, but this is only after many years of severe untreated apnea. Again, it is important to make this diagnosis by a sleep study. Anxiety and stress are real conditions that can also cause the symptoms you are having, and would not show up on any tests you had. Anxiety in particular can cause hyperventilation, which results in many frightening symptoms such as shortness of breath, tingling sensations, muscle cramps, and dizziness, among others. Talk to your doctor about getting a sleep study and don't worry about heart failure. You would have a lot more obvious symptoms if you had it and abnormalities would have shown up on your tests and examinations.

Hope this answers your query. If you have further questions, I would be happy to answer them.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Suggest treatment for central sleep apnea 11 minutes later
thank you...i did have a sleep study done back in 2012...came back normal...but at that time it was not happening anywhere as frequent as now...could things have changed in the last 2 years? or maybe I didn't have any APNEA episodes the night of the study? although I think I remember them telling me that if I had apnea it would show every single night even if I felt nothing.
Answered by Dr. Karen Steinberg 17 minutes later
Brief Answer:
Perhaps something changed

Detailed Answer:

If you have sleep apnea, it usually does show up every night. What did you get the sleep study for 2 years ago? Was it the same problem? There are other types of sleep disorders besides apnea that can be diagnosed with a sleep study. If your symptoms are more frequent or different from before, I would consider repeating the study. If it's still negative, I suggest asking your doctor about the possibility of anxiety and hyperventilation, and getting treatment for that.

Hope this helps.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Suggest treatment for central sleep apnea 13 minutes later
I had it done cause I would wake up and have to gasp for within the last month or so almost every night some nights are better than others...right as I am transisioning from wake to sleep I gasp for air...I don't not feel obstructed I do not feel short of breath I do not feel anything besides like my brain not telling me to take a breath. that's why I'm thinking central sleep apnea but then it's worring me I have heart problems...I have been under a great amount of stress the last month and have many other symptoms but this one and my palpitations are freaking me out...I don't want to die in my sleep and I have to have referrals to the specialist and they are booked out like 2-3 weeks...I'm so tired and scared to fall asleep it's horrible
Answered by Dr. Karen Steinberg 26 minutes later
Brief Answer:
Talk to your doctor about anxiety treatment

Detailed Answer:
It seems like you are worrying yourself into a frenzy and making your symptoms worse. Anxiety can create frightening symptoms that can make you even more anxious and continue the symptoms. Your tests have been negative and you have seen doctors numerous times and they have not found anything serious. I know this is scary but try to remember that all your tests and exams are saying you have nothing life-threatening. Yes, you do have something going on, but I think it is anxiety and hyperventilation. When you hyperventilate, some of the blood chemistries change temporarily and this could cause your brain to tell you not to take a breath for a moment. What happens is the carbon dioxide drops too low in your blood, and this signals the body to hold your breath a moment till it comes up. Breathing into a paper bag for a few moments when this happens can also help bring the carbon dioxide level to normal. Palpitations are common with anxiety because your body is producing a lot of stress hormones that stimulate the heart. None of this will cause you to die in your sleep. Please talk to your family doctor about getting some medicine to help with the anxiety. Once that is controlled, a lot of these symptoms should go away.
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Follow-up: Suggest treatment for central sleep apnea 2 hours later
thank u I appreciate the's just a very uncomfortable feeling having no control over all these symptoms
Answered by Dr. Karen Steinberg 49 minutes later
Brief Answer:
Try to relax

Detailed Answer:
I know how uncomfortable it is. Anxiety attacks and hyperventilation can really make you feel out of control. Try using the paper bag breathing method when you are having the gasping episodes. Look into meditation or other techniques such as Tai Chi to help you relax. And think about seeing your doctor for specific anxiety treatment. This will help.
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