man in a wheelchairRecent studies have begun to expose similarities between the symptoms of OSA and MS.  This article surveyed more than 2,300 people with MS, and 70% reported having a sleep disorder.  Diagnosis can occur anywhere between age 20-age 50, and women are more likely than men to be affected.  This age group is noteworthy because this is also an age group that is at high risk for sleep disorders.  Symptoms of both can include, but are not limited to, insomnia, restless leg syndrome, fatigue and daytime sleepiness (in addition to SDB and apnea).  Additionally, other MS symptoms include numbness, paralysis, blindness, muscle pain and tension, and other symptoms and dysfunctions related to the central nervous system.  Because MS is so irregular, the severity of symptoms is hard to predict, thus making treatment challenging.  You have heard me discuss the chicken and egg scenario in previous postings, as many of the disorders that I have mentioned are interrelated.  Can MS contribute to OSA?  Yes.  And can OSA worsen MS? Yes.  However, risk factors and pathophysiological causes of sleep disorders in people with MS are likely to be different compared to people with OSA who do not have MS.  Therefore, it is important to thoroughly examine and diagnose the patient, as treating a sleep disorder and restoring oxygen to the brain may play a role in slowing the progression of MS.

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