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Common sleep apnoea therapy relieves fatigue

Treatment with a common therapy helped obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) patients gain more energy and become less fatigued.

Common sleep apnoea therapy relieves fatigue

Treatment with a common therapy helped obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) patients gain more energy and become less fatigued in just three weeks and the gains appeared to be the result of more than just a placebo effect.

OSA is a common sleep-related breathing disorder that occurs when the muscles relax during sleep, causing soft tissue in the back of the throat to collapse and block the upper airway. Individuals suffering from it often unconsciously wake up dozens of times during the night when their airways become blocked. Most people with OSA snore loudly and frequently, and they often experience fatigue and excessive daytime sleepiness. Patients with the condition often undergo sleep tests and are then prescribed continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. The treatment entails wearing a mask during sleep that keeps their airwaves open by sending a steady stream of air down their throats. This airflow keeps the airway open to prevent pauses in breathing and restore normal oxygen levels.

To judge the efficacy of CPAP, 59 OSA patients from California with an average age of 48 years were assigned to receive treatment with either a CPAP device or a placebo (sham) device. The study participants were trained on how to use the device they were assigned and told to bring it home and use it every night for three weeks. The patients completed questionnaires on their levels of fatigue and daytime sleepiness both before and after the study period.

After the three weeks treatment period, participants receiving CPAP therapy were no longer experiencing clinically significant levels of fatigue. Self-reported energy levels also increased. Significant changes in fatigue and energy were not observed in participants who received placebo CPAP. Further analysis found that CPAP appeared to be especially beneficial for participants who were excessively fatigued or sleepy before treatment and CPAP therapy significantly reduced self-reported daytime sleepiness in this group.

The researchers speculated that CPAP may impact fatigue in patients with OSA by reducing inflammation. These results highlight that patients who comply with CPAP therapy can find relief from fatigue and experience increases in energy and vigour after a relatively short treatment period.
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