Central sleep apnea (CSA) is a condition where a sufferer will stop breathing temporarily while sleeping. This sleep disorder can occur several times during a single sleep period, which can be dangerous. If you stop breathing, your blood-oxygen levels can get dangerously low, and potentially result in hypoxemia, shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, rapid heart rate, and confusion.
The most common symptom of CSA is frequent starts and stops of breathing during sleep, which can result in regular nighttime awakening and insomnia. For some people, breathing gets very shallow instead of actual breath pauses. Thus, a CSA sufferer can feel very sleepy during the day and have trouble focusing on tasks. Headaches when waking up are another possible symptom.
CSA has a lot of potential causes including brain disorders, heart problems, medications, and substance abuse, among others. Drugs that contribute to the condition include codeine, morphine, and oxycodone. If your doctor can’t identify the cause of your central sleep apnea using basic diagnosis and tests, he will likely employ more sensitive diagnostic measures, such as MRI.
Diagnosing CSA with MRI
MRI is often used for diagnosis of central sleep apnea along with other tests. MRI of the head or spine may reveal structural abnormalities through generated images of organs, brainstem or spine. Doctors can then recommend the proper treatment.
There are three common treatments for CSA. These include Continuous Positive Air Pressure (CPAP), Bi-level Positive Air Pressure (BPAP), and Adaptive Servo-Ventilation (ASV). Your doctor which treatment is best for you based on the result of your MRI and other tests.
Central Sleep Apnea, Healthline.com