Sleep Apnea Worsens Fatigue in Patients with MS

Sleep Apnea Worsens Fatigue in Patients with MS


As if people who were diagnosed with multiple sclerosis didn’t have enough to worry about when it came to this chronic and often disabling condition, sleep apnea can actually worsen the fatigue level of these patients. Sleep apnea is a common problem for patients that have been diagnosed with MS and has now been linked to increased fatigue levels. Of the numerous symptoms of MS, fatigue is considered to be one of the most common and debilitating of them all.

The Study

The study was performed by researchers from the University of Michigan and featured 195 people diagnosed with MS. Those patients were required to fill out a sleep questionnaire and were then checked for daytime sleepiness and fatigue, insomnia, sleep apnea and fatigue severity. It first appeared in the Feb. 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, a publication released by the American Academy of

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Sleep Medicine (AASM).

The study found that about 20 percent of those being examined had been diagnosed with sleep apnea and more than 50 percent were found to face an elevated risk of being diagnosed. They were also able to determine that sleep apnea was a predicator of fatigue severity in MS patients. Coming into the study, most of the participants were unaware that they had a sleeping problem like sleep apnea. The researchers didn’t only rely on the sleeping questionnaires, as they were also given access to medical records to ensure that everything with their study was on the up and up.

What the study is telling

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us is that sleep apnea is common for many MS patients and is also an often ignored or undiagnosed cause of severe fatigue. The findings of the study actually suggest that doctors should be more inclined to check their MS patients for sleep problems.

Dr. Tiffany Braley, who is an assistant professor of neurology at the University of Michigan Multiple Sclerosis and Sleep Disorders Center said in a press release that doctors need to examine their patients for sleeping problems. Dr. M. Safwan Badr added in the press release that “Obstructive sleep apnea is a chronic illness that can have a destructive impact on your health

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and quality of life.” Badr went on to also include in the release that those patients with MS that are considered high risk for developing sleep apnea should have their sleep patterns evaluated closely.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is technically the lapses in your breathing while you sleep. They can last anywhere from a few seconds to a minute. It can occur several times each night and you would never know unless there was that one time you woke up in the middle of the night gasping for air. There are different types of sleep apnea that you can be diagnosed with. The most common is obstructive sleep apnea and occurs when the soft tissue in the back of your throat becomes floppy and loose and obstructs the airway. Another form is central sleep apnea which isn’t as common and actually involves the central nervous system, where MS takes its biggest toll on the body. The third type of sleep apnea is called complex and is a combination of the two. Other than waking up gasping for air, some symptoms of sleep apnea include headaches in the morning, waking up frequently to use the bathroom, and dry mouth or sore throat when you wake up.

What is MS and How Common is It?

MS is a chronic condition that attacks the central nervous system of men and women. The symptoms of MS range from mild signs like numbness in limbs to the more severe symptoms like loss of vision or paralysis. Among the vision issues that could be experienced include blurred vision in one or two eyes, which is officially called “optic neuritis.” Worldwide, more than 2.5 million people have been diagnosed with the condition and women have been found to be twice as likely to be diagnosed than men. One of the biggest risk factors for possibly developing MS is family history.

MS is considered a progressive autoimmune disorder that harms the protective coverings of nerve cells in the body. When this occurs, it diminishes the function in your brain and spinal function. The easiest way to explain what MS does to the body is that it takes the normally healthy function of your body attacks your body and ruins your everyday functionality. MS was first discovered in 1868 and despite a large amount of time to try and understand it, it is a condition

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that is considered to mostly be a mystery.

In the United States alone, there are more than 400,000 men and women that have been diagnosed with MS. This figure comes directly from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and of those who have MS, according to the AASM, seven percent of men and five percent of women have sleep apnea.

About the Author

541480_10151782779092178_1954746168_nHobson Lopes is a 2012 graduate of Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, Conn. He is a professional writer who will be releasing a cookbook in January 2014 called Men Cook Too. He is also the owner of The First Pitch and can be followed on Twitter.



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