#It’sMoreThanSnoring – Sleep Apnea and Epilepsy: How Your Sleep Affects Seizures

The previous article of our #It’sMoreThanSnoring campaign explored the surprising link between sleep apnea and cancer development. If you missed it, be sure to check it out by visiting this link.

By now, hopefully you understand the serious and life-threatening symptoms of sleep apnea. It goes hand in hand with other conditions, including epilepsy, which we will explore in this post.

Epilepsy is what we know causes seizures, but its real definition is excessive and abnormal brain cell activity. It’s important to understand the relationship between seizures and OSA, because poor sleep is a known risk factor for increased seizure activity.

Recent research by Professor Nancy Foldvary-Schaefer DO, MS, at the Cleveland Clinic, shows that OSA patients with epilepsy that sought treatment were more likely than those who were untreated to have a 50 percent decrease in seizures (63 percent to 14 percent).

Dr. Foldvary-Schaefer says that sleep disorders like OSA are highly common and underdiagnosed among people living with epilepsy. 40 percent of people living with epilepsy have OSA.

Dr. Vahid Ghasian is the director of the Epilepsy Center at the Staten Island University Hospital in New York City. He has noticed the links between epilepsy and sleep apnea for a long time, and now says, “The accepted practice is to manage both disorders at the same time.”

 Using a CPAP machine or an oral appliance can effectively ease seizures and help mangae sleep apnea. Each patient with epilepsy should be checked to see if they have sleep apnea. Many people that experience seizures as a result of epilepsy do not know they have sleep apnea, so a correct diagnosis is just beginning to receive effective treatment and decrease risk of seizures.

If you or someone you know is dealing with sleep apnea, please spread the word. Here at Somerville Dental Sleep Medicine, we are committed to helping patients who struggle with sleep apnea. Please reach out to us to schedule an appointment if you or someone you know is struggling with this condition.


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