Sleep Apnea and MS: Is There a Connection?

There is another connection I would like to take a closer look at: Sleep apnea and MS. This is a connection that has not been talked about in too much detail, but it appears to be one we might want to begin to pay closer attention to.

Fatigue

Fatigue and sleep complaints are commonly experienced by those living with multiple sclerosis (MS), which is an autoimmune disorder that affects the brain and spinal cord. A recent study suggested that while depression plays a role in MS-related fatigue, sleep disturbance is the biggest contributor—that is where sleep apnea comes into the picture.

An explanation for sleep-related fatigue experienced by those living with MS had something to do with obstructive sleep apnea. According to the study, sleep apnea was prevalent in people with MS. It also suggests that OSA may be a contributor to the fatigue that is one of the most common and debilitating symptoms of MS. It is definitely worth keeping an eye on and potentially improving symptoms through the treatment of sleep apnea. While sleep apnea treatment can’t eliminate MS, it can hopefully help with the increased fatigue portion of symptoms.

What is the Connection?

As stated before, sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that is characterized by frequent pauses in breathing while a person is asleep. After the breathing pauses, the person’s lungs catch up by taking deep gasps of air. Some nights a person may even snore violently or choke from oxygen deprivation. The nerve spasms associated with MS are often the causes of related sleep apnea. If a person suffers from sleep apnea, it should be addressed immediately to prevent long-term damage to the body.

Approximately one-fifth of MS patients surveyed had OSA and more than half were found to have an elevated risk for OSA based on screenings. Because fatigue is a common symptom of MS, it might pose as an excuse as to why they cannot sleep at night. However, this mistake needs to be avoided because many times the lack of sleep can be linked to something bigger. OSA can often be easily and effectively treated with oral appliance therapy to not only relieve sleep apnea symptoms, but potentially improve MS symptoms, too.

If you have a patient ha has been diagnosed with MS, it may be a good idea to discuss the possibility of OSA, especially if they are experiencing fatigue. For more information on sleep apnea, please contact my office today. While we continue to learn more about this connection, let’s continue to keep an eye it—you might be just what your patient needs to find some relief.

Dr. Patel Receives His RPSGT Certification

It’s official! Dr. Mayoor Patel recently received his RPSGT certification, which makes him the second dentist in the country (maybe even the world) to receive this certification! Isn’t that great? RPSGT is a trademarked designation that is assigned to sleep technicians who have successfully passed the RPSGT Exam. Recipients must also have adhered to recertification policies. Upon completion of each, RPSGT can be placed after their name—Dr. Patel has completed this.

What is RPSGT?

Being involved in sleep medicine is important and the RPSGT certification helps to solidify that importance. The Registered Polysomnographic Technologist (RPSGT) is an internationally recognized credential that represents the highest certification in the field for the health care professionals who clinically assess patients with sleep disorders.

The Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists sets the credentialing standards for the RPSGT credential and develops, maintains and administers the examination for all applicants. By administering the examination, the BRPT ensures that RPSGTs hold the highest level of core knowledge, skills, abilities and attributes possible.

How Do You Become a RPSGT?

To become a certified RPSGT, one must:

  • Have necessary clinical experience
  • Hold a Basic Life Support (BLS) Certification or its equivalent
  • Adhere to the BRPT Standards of Conduct
  • Pass the RPSGT credentialing exam

Dr. Patel has completed all of the steps listed above, which has allowed him to receive the certification of RPSGT! Dr. Patel is honored to have received this certification and to be the second dentist in the country to receive such an honor. To learn more about the RPSGT Credentials, please visit the Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists.

Who is Part of the Sleep Treatment Process?

When it comes to treating sleep apnea and other sleep breathing disorders, it is important to understand who each member of your team is. While we have mentioned this before, it is always a good idea to refresh your memory of just what each member does. Let’s meet he members of a sleep team, so you can better understand who is there to help in the diagnosis and treatment of your patients:

Board Certified Sleep Medicine Physician

A board certified sleep medicine physician has the necessary skills to diagnose and treat sleep disorders. If you suspect your patient might be suffering from a sleep disorder, the first person you should contact is your local sleep medicine physician. Each sleep medicine specialist has received special training that can prevent serious life-threatening diseases and improve your quality of life.

The Sleep Technologist

A sleep technologist will assist in the evaluation and follow-up care of patients with sleep disorders—they interact directly with the patients. They will assist the sleep medicine physician with diagnostic tests, including in-lab sleep studies, multiple sleep latency testing (MSLT) and the maintenance of wakefulness testing (MWT). A sleep technologist will also score sleep tests prior to the physician’s interpretation, while also assisting patients with their home sleep tests.

Advance Practice Nurse/Physician Assistant

Nurses and physicians assist the sleep medicine physician in providing care for your sleep patients. Their roles will vary by state, but both typically practice within the scope of practice as defined by a state licensing board.

Sleep Surgeon

Also known as an otolaryngologist, a sleep surgeon has a specific interest in treating snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep surgeons work closely with a board certified sleep physician to provide proper care for patients who cannot tolerate CPAP therapy. The sleep surgeon can discuss with your patient each surgery option available.

Behavioral Sleep Medicine Specialist

Mental health professionals that have training in behavioral sleep medicine can work with patients to address the behavioral, psychological and physiological factors that might be interfering with their sleep. A behavioral sleep medicine specialist will use cognitive-behavioral therapy to attempt to eliminate habits, behaviors and environmental disruptions that stand in the way of optimal rest.

As a dental sleep medicine specialist, you can often recognize a sleeping problem before it worsens. You can also provide effective treatment for your patients. Dr. Mayoor Patel is available to help teach and guide you in your role as a dental sleep medicine specialist and how you can successfully treat your patients.

Join Us for Study Club and Increased Understanding

If you have not done so already, I highly recommend joining me for study clubs and groups. It is important to always be up-to-date with various topics for dental sleep medicine and TMD areas, which is where study club comes into play. Let’s take a look at what you can expect from these groups.

What is Study Club?

Good question. Study club is a way for me to visit your office to further discuss various areas of your dental office that include you and your team. I welcome invitations to your study club and group or as a guest speaker at your office meetings to share some fun learning experiences on an array of topics. It is almost like book club, but without the books. But don’t let that limit you. If you have a book you read or are interested in, then bring it. We can touch base on it and see what it is all about and how it can help with your office.

After all, I recently wrote a book that would be great for you and your office to read together for an enhanced understanding of dental sleep medicine and your patients. The book can be purchased on lulu.com or amazon.com, whichever is your preference. “Freedom from CPAP: Sleep Apnea Hurts, the Cure Doesn’t Have To” is a joint effort by myself and Dr. David Dillard to help improve the understanding of obstructive Sleep Apnea.

Some topics we can discuss in study club might include, but are not limited to:

  • Pharmacology in Treating Orofacial Pain/TMD
  • Identifying Patients with Suspected Sleep Breathing Disorders
  • Fundamentals of Temporomandibular Disorders
  • Oral Appliance Therapy in the Management of Obstructive Sleep Apnea
  • Understanding Various Common Facial Pain in a General Dentistry Practice
  • What is TMD?
  • Link between TMD, Sleep Bruxism & Sleep Disordered Breathing
  • Understanding Bruxism

And, if you have a topic in mind and you do not see it listed above, please contact me and we can further discuss your needs! I look forward to potentially working with you and your staff on these topics!