Fatigue and sleep complaints are commonly experienced by those living with multiple sclerosis (MS), which is an autoimmune disorder that affects the brain and spinal cord. A recent study from Pennsylvania State University stated that while depression plays a role in MS-related fatigue, sleep disturbance is the biggest contributor—that is where sleep apnea comes into the picture.

With a recent study, an explanation for sleep-related fatigue experienced by those living with MS had something to do with obstructive sleep apnea. According to the study, sleep apnea was prevalent in people with MS. It also suggests that OSA may be a contributor to the fatigue that is one of the most common and debilitating symptoms of MS.

The Connection

Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that is characterized by frequent pauses in breathing while you sleep. After the breathing pauses, your lungs catch up by taking deep gasps of air. Some nights you may even snore violently or choke from oxygen deprivation. The nerve spasms associated with MS are often the causes of related sleep apnea. If you suffer from sleep apnea, it should be addressed immediately to prevent long-term damage to the body.

Approximately one-fifth of MS patients surveyed had OSA and more than half were found to have an elevated risk for OSA based on screenings. Because fatigue is a common symptom of MS, many patients find excuses to why they can’t sleep at night. It is important to not make this mistake. OSA can often be easily and effectively treated with oral appliance therapy to not only relieve your sleep apnea symptoms, but potentially your MS symptoms, too.

If you have been diagnosed with MS, it is often a good idea to discuss the possibility of OSA, especially if you are experiencing fatigue. For more information on sleep apnea, please contact the Craniofacial Pain & Dental Sleep Center of Georgia for more information.