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Sleep Apnea Treatment Not Curing Daytime Fatigue

May 19, 2009

Even with regular positive airway pressure, or CPAP treatments, extreme sleepiness during the day remains a constant annoyance for individuals suffering from sleep apnea, Reuters Health reported. 

Sleep apnea happens when the supple tissues located in the back of throat collapse momentarily during sleep, resulting in repetitive breathing interruption.  Loud snoring and daytime exhaustion are defining symptoms of the disorder. Studies show that exhaustion during the day can lead to irritability, cloud thinking and concentration, or maximize risks of traffic mishaps. 

CPAP treatment requires a special face mask be worn to administer direct, pressurized air into the airways to force them open during sleep. 

Researchers observed a group of 502 patients from 37 sleep centers who were undergoing CPAP treatment.  Findings of the study, which can be viewed in the May publication of European Respiratory Journal, revealed that 6 percent still suffered chronic daytime sleepiness. 

“In France alone,” study leader Dr. J-L. Pepin, from CHU de Grenoble, France stated, “We have 230,000 patients using CPAP. We calculate that at least 13,800 of those have residual daytime sleepiness.”

Initially, Pepin and colleagues found that 12 percent of patients had lingering extreme tiredness at 1 year, however after making room for viable contributing factors such as restless leg syndrome, depression, and narcolepsy, the incidence of lingering extreme tiredness dropped to 6 percent. 

Daytime tiredness was linked to a poorer quality of life.  Investigators pointed out individuals displaying this problem additionally had weakened emotional health and less energy than did others with total responsiveness to CPAP therapy and, did not report any daytime complaint of sleepiness. 

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