Sleep apnea syndrome as a cause of chronic fatigue

Obstructive sleep apnea is one of the causes of chronic fatigue. The latter occurs due to a violation of breathing during sleep, which entails gross disorders in the structure of sleep. Patients with obstructive sleep apnea can sleep a sufficient amount of time, but after waking up they feel sleepy and tired, as if they had not slept at all. Almost always, sleep apnea develops against the background of snoring.

Each pause in breathing during sleep (apnea episode) is accompanied by a lack of air. This causes a short-term reflex awakening caused by an increase in carbon dioxide in the blood and a decrease in oxygen. Sleep with obstructive sleep apnea can be interrupted very often, as episodes of apnea are observed up to 300-400 times per night. As a result, the normal structure of sleep is significantly disrupted. The patient is sometimes unaware of respiratory arrest and sleep disturbance, suffers from sleep apnea for many years and wonders why in the morning he feels weak, tired, drowsy, despite the fact that he spent 8 hours in bed.

Lack of sleep for many years leads to the appearance of depression, lethargy, and the constant need for sleep turns into chronic fatigue, a desire to rest and sleep during the day. Chronic fatigue is accompanied by a decrease in concentration, morning headaches, and the development of personality disorders. One of the companions of chronic fatigue is memory impairment, apathy, the appearance of unreasonable fears, absent-mindedness, increased anxiety and depression are also possible.

Symptoms of chronic fatigue can last for several years. Such patients have been observed by therapists and neuropathologists for years, they are diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, “manager’s syndrome”, they take treatment that brings a slight improvement, but the underlying disease progresses without proper correction. With chronic fatigue, which is observed in sleep apnea, even vacations and complete rest from everything do not restore strength and do not return the desire to work. The reason is a violation of the quality of sleep. Until it is eliminated, it is useless to fight chronic fatigue.

The situation can be corrected only by treating the underlying disease. First of all, you need to contact a somnologist and undergo polysomnography (in the clinic or at home), which will allow you to identify the disease and determine its severity. Polysomnography includes the simultaneous recording of an electroencephalogram, electrooculogram , electromyogram , electrocardiogram during nocturnal sleep. In addition, abdominal and thoracic respiratory effort, respiratory airflow rate are measured and pulse oximetry is performed (the degree of blood oxygen saturation is determined). Such a comprehensive examination allows you to establish the presence of episodes of apnea, and related changes in the body. The criterion for the diagnosis of sleep apnea is the identification of more than five episodes of apnea in one hour of sleep lasting more than ten seconds.

After clarifying the diagnosis, establishing the causes of the disease, and determining the degree of its severity, the somnologist prescribes treatment. For mild obstructive sleep apnea, the use of intraoral devices is sometimes recommended. In the presence of indications for surgical treatment, a variety of surgical interventions are resorted to.

CPAP therapy is the most effective method for treating sleep apnea syndrome, and therefore chronic fatigue syndrome as a manifestation of this disease . This is a treatment using special devices – during sleep, the patient breathes air, which enters under a slight therapeutic pressure. Treatment can relieve symptoms and reduce the risk of serious heart rhythm problems, heart attacks, strokes, and sudden death.

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