Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Multiple Sclerosis

It’s not uncommon for those suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS) to experience sleep disturbances. Fatigue is often one of the first and most persistent signs of MS, but it may also be a creation or symptom of an exacerbation of a medical condition known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Obstructive sleep apnea is characterized by up to hundreds of episodes without breath during the night, usually the result of airway obstruction from a narrowed or blocked throat. Those with MS are at an increased risk of developing the condition.

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis is a central nervous system disorder that disturbs the communication between the brain, spine, and nerves throughout the body. Besides fatigue, those with MS may also experience numbness or tingling throughout their body, weakness, dizziness, and bowel and bladder problems. These symptoms, along with the many others, can range in severity from mild to severe.

How Common is Sleep Apnea in those with MS?

One study conducted by the American Academy of Medicine found that one in five people suffering from MS were also suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. That’s three times higher than the occurrence in the general population! The results of this study point to one thing: doctors should evaluate their patients with MS for obstructive sleep apnea, even if they don’t snore.

The Connection Between OSA and MS

Many sufferers of MS have difficulties swallowing, a symptom know as dysphagia. This difficulty is caused by problems with the nerves of the throat muscles, causing a weakness to the area. Weakness to the muscles around the throat may very well be responsible for obstructive sleep apnea. As the muscles weaken, the ability of a person to keep their airways from collapsing, narrowing, or being blocked by their tongue decreases. The result is complete or partial obstruction throughout the night.

Treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Whether or not you suffer from MS, if you’re diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, your physician will likely prescribe a continuous positive airway pressure machine, or CPAP, to treat the condition. Untreated sleep apnea increases your likelihood of developing serious cardiovascular disease and, if you’ve got MS, you’ll likely not want to risk acquiring a secondary condition. CPAP therapy uses pressurized air delivered through a mask to keep a person’s airways open as is an effective way to prevent complications of the disease.

If you’ve got MS or have symptoms of sleep apnea, such as snoring, fatigue, or high blood pressure, talk to your physician. If you’re diagnosed, visit Breatheeasycpap.com to find the perfect CPAP system that’s both cost effective and of the highest quality.