Apnea is the tech term for a pause in breathing. Occasional brief breathing stops are normal. However, a prolonged breathing pause that decreases your oxygen levels or disrupts sleep is not.
Apnea breathing problems are designated as obstructive or central. Obstructive apnea is caused by an obstruction of your airway. Central apnea is caused by your brain’s failure to maintain proper control of the breathing process.
Obstructive apnea typically occurs during sleep and enlarged tonsils and adenoids or relaxed soft tissue at back of your throat commonly clog airways creating breathing pauses. Treatment for obstructive apnea may involve an adenotonsillectomy or use of a CPAP while sleeping.
Central apnea occurs in very premature infants because of their respiratory center immaturity. Often hospitalization is maintained until breathing problems are resolved.
Some of these health conditions are associated with irregular breathing apnea:
- hemorrhagic shock
- neurological disorders
- intracranial hemorrhage
- gastroesophageal reflux
- necrotizing enterocolitis
- patent ductus arteriosus
- respiratory distress syndrome
- infections ~ sepsis, meningitis, pneumonia, pertussis
- pulmonary mechanical problems ~ air leak, atelectasis, collapsed lung
- metabolic problems ~ hypoglycemia, acidosis, hyponatremia, hypocalcemia
Treatment of these health problems may decrease your apnea pauses of irregular breathing.