Patients With Generalized Epilepsy May Be at Higher Risk for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

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Patients With Generalized Epilepsy May Be at Higher Risk for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Patients With Generalized Epilepsy May Be at Higher Risk for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Posted on Tuesday, December 1st, 2020 at 12:53 am    

Researchers have discovered a connection between epilepsy and obstructive sleep apnea, also referred to as OSA. A 2018 article from Practical Neurology explains this connection. The authors of the article, Michelle L. Dougherty, MD and Karin G. Johnson, MD, argue that epilepsy can affect sleep apnea and that the converse is true as well.

Dougherty and Johnson wrote in the article that epileptic seizures can disrupt a person’s sleep habits. Additionally, anti-seizure medications may also diminish the possibility of healthy sleep. This is because some of these medications are muscle relaxants, which can impact the upper airway. And other medicines cause weight gain; obesity is a contributing factor to OSA.

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that occurs when your upper respiratory structure repeatedly collapses during sleep. This causes repetitive disrupted sleep, snoring, trouble breathing, and the inability to deliver oxygen to the brain. Sleep apnea often leaves the patient feeling groggy the next morning and foggy throughout the day.

An article from Neurology Today argues that people with generalized epilepsy are often at a higher risk of developing sleep apnea than people with focal epilepsy, which is characterized by seizures that affect one part of the brain. The article also states that people with epilepsy and undiagnosed sleep apnea are at a higher risk of sudden unexplained death in epilepsy (SUDEP). Matthew T. Scharf, MD, Ph.D., one of the doctors who authored the study, said epilepsy patients should always be screened for sleep disorders.

Despite the studies, doctors are still not sure how exactly epilepsy affects sleep apnea and, conversely, how sleep apnea affects epilepsy. However, they have uncovered sufficient evidence to connect the two, and now many doctors advocate for more sleep disorder screenings in people with epilepsy.

Make an Appointment With Silent Night Therapy

If you have epilepsy and believe you should be screened for a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea, please do not hesitate to reach out to Silent Night Therapy. Our sleep specialists have the tools and expertise to diagnose your sleep problems and help find practical solutions that fit your lifestyle. If you prefer to do an at-home sleep study, we can provide you with a kit mailed straight to your door. Please give us a call at (631) 983-2463 or contact us online.