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Fri, Oct. 18

Sleep apnea treatment can reduce epileptic seizures

Dear Dr. Rosenberg:

My 19-year-old son has been diagnosed with epilepsy. He has been on numerous medications yet continues to have seizures. I have noticed that they frequently occur during sleep or just as he wakes up. Would there be any benefit to having a sleep study performed?

A: Yes, most certainly. In a recent study, over one-third of patients with resistant seizures were found to have sleep apnea. Treatment for sleep-disordered breathing resulted in a 45 percent drop in the frequency of seizures. We believe that the seizures are related to the low oxygen levels and fragmented sleep. Both of these can cause an increase in seizures. I would say a sleep study is indicated.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg:

My ex-husband was diagnosed a few years ago with severe sleep apnea after a sleep study in which he stopped breathing 45 times/hour. He was not compliant with using CPAP, even after trying several types of equipment. He also went to a dentist who specialized in mouthguards for sleep disorders. He discontinued using the mouthguard because it threw his jaw out of alignment and he had such difficulty chewing that he had to go on a liquid diet.

Now that he has left the marriage, he says his apnea has gone away, and that it was only caused due to stress. He is not using any equipment or treating the apnea in any way, and has not had further sleep studies. He says he is healing through meditation. Could a condition this severe just go away?

A: No, stress does not cause sleep apnea. If he has lost a significant amount of weight or stopped drinking, he may have had some improvement. It is important to note that some medications related to treating stress can actually worsen sleep apnea. The bottom line is that as severe as his sleep apnea was, he should take the time to get retested. He should be sure that his condition has truly gone away.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg:

I wear a CPAP mask. My husband and I are planning to travel to Europe this year. Will I need additional or different equipment to use my CPAP there?

A: Patients traveling internationally will need a set of world traveler power adapters. To use, plug the power cable into the power adapters and the power adapters into the socket in a foreign country. This will allow any CPAP rated to accept domestic and international power (110/220) to work nearly anywhere in the world.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg:

I have emphysema. I have been on a sleep aide called Temazepam for years. My new doctor wants to take me off of this medication and try a drug called Rozerem. He said it is safer to use with my condition. Is this true?

A: Yes, Temazepam is one of the older sleep aids called benzodiazapines that can be dangerous when used for patients with emphysema. They decrease lung volumes and depress one's ability to respond to low oxygen levels while sleeping. Rozerem does not have any of these side effects and is safer in patients diagnosed with pulmonary disease.

Dr. Robert Rosenberg, board-certified sleep medicine specialist, will answer readers' questions by incorporating them in future columns. Contact him at or via mail at the Sleep Disorders Center of Prescott Valley, 3259 N. Windsong Dr., Prescott Valley, AZ 86314.

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