Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an immune-debilitating disease of the central nervous system that causes inflammation and damage to the protective sheath that covers the nerves. This damage causes interference in how the brain and spinal cord communicate to the rest of the body. In addition to neurological disability, MS patients experience a number of chronic symptoms such as: insomnia, daytime sleepiness and the most common of which is fatigue. Fatigue is the most recognized and disabling symptom of multiple sclerosis (MS). However, underlying causes of the frequency of fatigue are often overlooked.
A recent study that included 195 patients at the U-M Multiple Sclerosis Center used the STOP-Bang questionnaire to determine that those with MS are at a higher risk for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Study results revealed that the patients who expressed fatigue were more likely to contract sleep apnea. Even when other causes of fatigue were considered (age, gender, BMI, depression, sleep health, etc) the risk of being diagnosed with sleep apnea remained higher with those who experienced fatigue as a result of MS.
Sleep apnea is one of the other chronic symptoms often found in patients with MS. Early detection and treatment of sleep apnea can assist in preventing more serious conditions associated with it such as heart disease, stroke and even death. Typical treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is called continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). This type therapy is generally the first plan of action that involves a machine and mask device. A continuous flow of air is used to keep the air passage open to prevent the presence of apneas or stops in breathing. “Obstructive sleep apnea is a chronic illness that can have a destructive impact on your health and quality of life,” said American Academy of Sleep Medicine President Dr. M. Safwan Badr. “People with multiple sclerosis who are found to have a high risk of OSA should be referred to a board certified sleep medicine physician for a comprehensive sleep evaluation.”
If you or someone you know has MS and experience fatigue often be sure to contact your primary care physician to find out how to be tested for sleep apnea. You can also contact us here at Aeroflow Healthcare for more assistance with your sleep apnea testing, CPAP therapy and sleep needs.