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Could Sleep Apnea be Causing Your MS Fatigue?

A new study shows that diagnosing and treating sleep apnea in MS patients may be a key to reducing fatigue and improving quality of life. Nearly 80 percent of people that suffer with multiple sclerosis (MS) suffer with the debilitating symptom of fatigue. The National MS Society (NMSS) states the fatigue "can significantly interfere with a person’s ability to function at home and at work."The sleep disorder, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) also has a commonality with MS sufferers which is extreme fatigue.

Dr. Tiffany J. Braley, an assistant professor of neurology at the University of Michigan Multiple Sclerosis and Sleep Centers, was curious about whether OSA plays a role in MS-related fatigue. In her team's latest study, 195 patients from the university’s MS clinic were given questionnaires designed to measure OSA risk, OSA diagnoses, and fatigue.

"The inspiration behind this stems from personal experiences with my patients," Braley said in an interview with Healthline. "I have encountered many MS patients in my practice whose fatigue improved when their underlying sleep disorders, particularly OSA, were finally diagnosed and treated. "They found that one fifth of the MS patients surveyed had definite OSA and more than half were at an increased risk of developing the sleep disorder. Most had never been formally diagnosed with the condition, and among those who had, less than half were receiving treatment for it.