Sleep Apnea & Narcolepsy
Knowing the Difference & Managing Your Symptoms
Sleep apnea and narcolepsy are two common sleep disorders that affect millions of people worldwide. Both conditions can have a significant impact on your quality of life, making it crucial to understand their differences and how to manage your symptoms. To get a better understanding of both sleep disorders, our Nashua, NH, sleep apnea dentist can differentiate between both and get you the treatment you need.
What Is Narcolepsy?
Narcolepsy is a chronic neurological disorder that affects the brain’s ability to regulate sleep-wake cycles. It causes:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Cataplexy (sudden loss of muscle control)
- Sleep paralysis
Narcolepsy is a lifelong condition that can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life, affecting their ability to perform daily tasks and socialize.
The Difference Between Sleep Apnea & Narcolepsy
While both conditions are considered to be sleep disorders, they have different causes and symptoms. Sleep apnea occurs when the airway is partially or completely blocked during sleep, leading to interrupted breathing and loud snoring. On the other hand, narcolepsy is caused by a lack of a specific brain chemical called hypocretin, which regulates wakefulness and sleep.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea & Narcolepsy
Sleep apnea and narcolepsy share some common symptoms, such as daytime sleepiness, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. However, there are some differences that you should be aware of:
- Sleep apnea is often characterized by loud snoring, gasping for air during sleep, and morning headaches.
- Narcolepsy is characterized by sudden episodes of falling asleep, muscle weakness or loss of muscle tone (cataplexy), and hallucinations.
Dealing With Both Sleep Apnea & Narcolepsy
If you have both sleep apnea and narcolepsy, it’s essential to seek medical attention as soon as possible. We highly recommend undergoing a sleep study to get a better understanding of your condition and receive proper treatment.
A sleep dentist, like Dr. Ura, can help you manage your symptoms through lifestyle changes, medication, and other treatments. Some healthy habits you can develop include:
- Losing weight
- Avoid alcohol and sedatives
- Establish a consistent sleep schedule
Oral Appliance Therapy
Oral appliance therapy isn’t typically used as a primary treatment for narcolepsy. The primary treatment for narcolepsy typically involves medication, such as stimulants or antidepressants, to help manage the symptoms of excessive daytime sleepiness and cataplexy.
However, in some cases, an oral appliance may be used as an adjunct therapy to help manage certain symptoms of narcolepsy by your airway from collapsing during cataplexy episodes, which can improve breathing and reduce the severity of symptoms.
It’s important to work closely with a healthcare provider and your sleep apnea dentist to determine the most effective treatment plan for your individual needs if you have narcolepsy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can sleep apnea and narcolepsy occur together?
Yes, it’s possible to have both sleep apnea and narcolepsy. This condition is called comorbid sleep apnea and narcolepsy. Both medical conditions share similar symptoms, so it’s recommended you undergo a sleep study to get the correct diagnosis and treatment you need.
Can sleep apnea cause narcolepsy?
No, sleep apnea doesn’t cause narcolepsy, but both conditions can coexist. However, recent research has shown that people with narcolepsy may be more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea than people without narcolepsy. That’s why it’s important to receive a diagnosis as soon as possible for immediate treatment.
Is there a cure for sleep apnea and narcolepsy?
There’s no cure for sleep apnea and narcolepsy. But with proper diagnosis and treatment, you can manage the symptoms with lifestyle changes and medication. Visit your sleep dentist so that you can undergo a sleep study and receive a proper diagnosis.
Can narcolepsy be genetic?
Narcolepsy can be genetic in some cases, but it’s not a straightforward inheritance pattern like many other genetic disorders. Multiple genetic and environmental factors can contribute to the development of the condition, and not everyone with narcolepsy has a family history of the disorder. If you suspect that you have narcolepsy, seek medical attention to receive a proper diagnosis and management of your symptoms.
Sleep Soundly With The Right Treatment
Sleep apnea and narcolepsy are two distinct sleep disorders that can have a significant impact on your quality of life. If you suspect that you have any of these conditions, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Contact our Nashua, NH, office today at (603) 236-1124. Dr. Ura and our team proudly provide sleep apnea treatment services to the Nashua community and surrounding areas such as Hudson, Merrimack, and Milford, NH. You can also fill out our online contact form to book your appointment, and one of our team members will get back to you promptly.