In 2009, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis...
My life has never been the same. As a mother of six, a business owner and a loving wife; this disease has had a tremendous effect on my life.
"Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body." (1) Multiple sclerosis is not very well understood and scientist still do not know what causes MS.
Patients with MS suffer from a deterioration (demyelination) of the myelin sheath, which surrounds the nerve fibers throughout their nervous system. It is believed to be caused by environmental factors that are not yet known, which affect a person who is predisposed. One thing that is known about multiple sclerosis, is that three times more women get this disease than men.
When people think of sleep apnea, they generally think of more common comorbidities (diabetes, obesity, heart failure, hypertension, etc). BUT THE VAST MAJORITY OF PEOPLE ARE UNAWARE OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SLEEP APNEA & MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS.
A new study performed by the American Academy of sleep medicine indicates that around 1/5 of a patient suffering from multiple sclerosis will also suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. The study also indicates that almost half the patients who suffer from multiple sclerosis are at an elevated risk of suffering obstructive sleep apnea.
Understanding this relationship is very important and could change the way multiple sclerosis is viewed. This is because one of the most common symptoms of multiple sclerosis is debilitating fatigue. Patients, like myself, who suffer from multiple sclerosis will often find themselves exhausted for days on end, regardless of how much sleep we get it.
BUT it is important to understand that fatigue is also a very common symptom of obstructive sleep apnea. Since obstructive sleep apnea greatly reduces the amount of REM sleep a patient is able to get during the night, patients who suffer from sleep apnea will also suffer from debilitating fatigue.
THAT IS WHY it is important that patients suffering from multiple sclerosis, inquire with their physicians who are involved in their treatment about the possibility of them also suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. By tackling the possibly correlated obstructive sleep apnea, one could greatly reduce the debilitating effects of multiple sclerosis
(1). National multiple sclerosis society. "What is MS?" http://www.nationalmssociety.org/What-is-MS
(2). Sleep apnea.com "The link between Sleep Apnea and MS." https://www.sleepapnea.com/blog/ post/88621749594/the-link-between-sleep-apnea-and-ms-by-gina