Central Sleep Apnea may manifest itself in a number of ways. Symptoms include among others, extreme exhaustion and sleepiness during daylight hours, early morning headaches, lack of concentration, and memory loss. The most common indicator of the condition is however quite simply the failure of sufferers to breathe for extended periods during sleep.
One of the more common varieties of Central Sleep Apnea is known as Cheyne - Stokes respiration. This form of apnea occurs when individuals are capable of inhalation, but for some reason or another are unable to exhale. Those witnessing a Cheyne - Stokes episode will observe that the sufferer will first inhale deeply and then cease to breathe altogether for an extended period. They will then inhale once again after which the entire cycle will be repeated, often several times during the space of a couple of minutes.
Central Sleep Apnea episodes are thought to originate in a portion of the brain known as the Thalamus. Typically, the condition may be caused by any number of neurological disorders, the most common of which being lesions of the primary brainstem, the part of the brain responsible for the control of breathing. Other neurological disorders which may result in Central Sleep Apnea include tumours, strokes, encephalitis, and spinal or brain surgery. In addition, it has been shown that Cheyne- Stokes respiration may in fact be the direct cause of congestive heart failure.
Individuals suspected of suffering from Central Sleep Apnea and indeed any other Sleep Disorder for that matter will need to undergo a series of tests. The first of these will usually be a polysomnography which monitors sleeping patterns over an extended period of time so as to ascertain precisely which disorder a patient is suffering from. Following this, a number of other tests including an MRI scan and an ECG will need to be conducted.
If it is established subsequent to test results that a person does in fact suffer from Sleep Apnea, the condition will need to be treated as soon as possible. Treatment programmes include the use of oxygen throughout the night as well as the prescription of specific medication such as enzyme inhibitors, diuretics, depressants and anti- depressants. Particular combinations and dosage of medication need to be carefully monitored and will vary depending on the symptoms and causes of the condition.