Link Between Sleep Apnea, Overactive Bladder Found In Women
September 5, 2012

Link Between Sleep Apnea, Overactive Bladder Found In Women

Connie K. Ho for — Your Universe Online

Sleep should be a relaxed time for people, but many individuals encounter difficulties during night time rest. As such, more and more research has been done on the effects of sleep on patients of all ages and backgrounds. A new study publicized at the recent European Respiratory Society (ERS) Annual Congress in Vienna reported that sleep apnea in women has connections with overactive bladder syndrome.

This year, the ERS conference was a collaborative effort among The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine. The event included a Scientific Program that featured new and recent data presentations. The research provided new evidence showing that the conditions sleep apnea and overactive bladder syndrome have a possible link.

Individuals with overactive bladder syndrome urinate more frequently as well as have incontinence and numerous wakening periods at night to use the restroom. A symptom of sleep apnea is also the need to urinate frequently, but not many studies have been done to better understand the connection between sleep apnea and overactive bladder syndrome.

“Overactive bladder has a prevalence of 16% among people over 40 years in Europe and it is a difficult condition to live with, affecting a person´s quality of life. The findings of this study provide evidence that bladder control could be linked to sleep apnea, although we do not know whether one of the conditions causes the other,” commented lead author Nuria Grau from Hospital del Mar in a prepared news release statement.

In the project, scientists from the Hospital del Mar in Barcelona, Spain looked at 72 female patients who were referred by a sleep disorder clinic that theorized that the females had sleep apnea. The patients were asked to complete a questionnaire regarding four different symptoms related to bladder control; the questions focused on incontinence, the frequency of urination, the urgency of urination, and nocturia. The individuals also rated their discomfort with the four symptoms.

With the pool of data, the investigators analyzed the answers from the questionnaires and rated the responses on two scales to determine the severity of the symptoms and the pain that the women had had as a result.

The study helped diagnose 62 of the women with sleep apnea. The participants who were diagnosed with sleep apnea had higher scores related to discomfort and symptoms regarding bladder control. Women who were diagnosed with the disorder scored a median average of five out of 12 on the symptoms, as compared to the median average score of three for participants who were not diagnosed with sleep apnea. As well, women who were diagnosed with sleep apnea scored a median average score of four out of 12 on discomfort, as compared to the median average score of one out of 12 for women who did not have the disorder.

The findings from the study will be used in further research projects to help develop new treatments for those suffering from overactive bladder syndrome.

“The next step in our research is to investigate the role of continuous positive airway pressure therapy in these patients and its impact on the symptoms of overactive bladder,” concluded Grau in the statement.