Exploring the Link Between Fibromyalgia and Sleep Apnea

Fibromyalgia and Sleep Apnea

If you are diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, it’s a good idea to consider the possibility of Obstructive Sleep Apnea. While the link between Fibromyalgia and Sleep Apnea is still being explored, signs indicate a strong correlation between the two. In fact, a 2017 study found half of patients with Fibromyalgia were also diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea, and recommended people diagnosed with Fibromyalgia be assessed for Sleep Apnea.

It is still undetermined if one of these conditions causes the other, or why the two are linked. However, it’s clear that when it comes to restless sleep, both conditions share many symptoms. Let’s explore the connection. 

Fibromyalgia

People with fibromyalgia experience widespread pain throughout their body—often experienced with a greater sensitivity to pain. This can cause distress, fatigue, and difficulty with sleeping. It is suspected that 2 percent of the population is affected by fibromyalgia, and it largely affects women, who are twice as likely to have it as men.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a breathing disorder that causes the airway to be obstructed during sleep, interrupting breathing for periods of time—sometimes people stop breathing 5 to more than 30 times an hour. Sleep apnea causes snoring and excessive daytime fatigue, as well as significant health risks including the increased likelihood of a heart attack or stroke. It’s estimated that 85 percent of patients with obstructive sleep apnea do not know they have it.

Shared Symptoms between Fibromyalgia and Sleep Apnea

If you are diagnosed with fibromyalgia, your chances of having sleep apnea are higher. And if you have sleep apnea, you may also have fibromyalgia. Both conditions share certain symptoms: daytime drowsiness and lethargy, mood swings and depression, and an inability to concentrate. And it’s no wonder! With both conditions, you are unable to get a good, healthy night of restful, restorative sleep. 

Seeking Treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

When diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, it’s important to be assessed for Obstructive Sleep Apnea. The goal is to get a good night of sleep, and a diagnosis of Obstructive Sleep Apnea can help you move toward managing the lack of sleep. This is more important than just relieving the daytime tiredness, as Obstructive Sleep Apnea is quite dangerous when left untreated. Because patients are not getting restful sleep, it causes a significant health risk, and can lead to irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, heart conditions, and strokes. 

But the great news is, Obstructive Sleep Apnea can be diagnosed with a sleep study and a plan can be made for treatment. For those with mild to moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea, the disorder can be treated with the use of an oral appliance—a removable device like a retainer that prevents the airway from closing during sleep. If you cannot tolerate CPAP, oral appliances are also an alternative option for treatment. 

The First Step to Treatment

The first step to treatment is a consultation—visit our office and we can take your history, run tests, and determine if we think you may have Obstructive Sleep Apnea. We at Dr. Sep and Dr. Rondeau would love to help you on your journey in addressing your condition, and move you toward healthy, restorative sleep. 

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