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Wed, Dec. 11

Sleep apnea can worsen Meniere’s disease

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

I have had Meniere’s disease for several years. Despite taking medication, I still get frequent attacks of vertigo and progressive hearing loss. I saw online where Meniere’s might be made worse by sleep apnea. Is this true?

A: Yes, a study from Japan published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine was published last year. They found that 10 percent of people with Meniere’s disease had sleep apnea. Most importantly, they found that treatment of sleep apnea reduced the frequency of attacks of vertigo and improved hearing loss. They postulate that low oxygen and impaired cerebral circulation due to sleep apnea, may be exacerbating the disorder.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

Can asthma symptoms be worsened by sleep apnea? My 17-year-old son has severe asthma and he snores like a freight train. I’m wondering if I should mention this to his pediatrician.

A: Yes, asthma can be made worse by sleep apnea. It is only in the last few years that studies have demonstrated this relationship. In fact, in the October issue of the journal Allergy the authors found that patients with asthma who had sleep apnea did much better when the sleep apnea was treated. They found that asthma control (both actual and future risk), quality of life, and lung function, improved after starting continuous positive airway pressure in asthmatics with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. So yes, I would mention this to his doctor.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

Can energy drinks be harmful?

A: Energy drinks contain caffeine as their major ingredient. Excessive caffeine can cause anxiety, elevated blood pressure, and insomnia.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

My husband has had erectile dysfunction for several years and takes Viagra regularly. His testosterone level comes back normal from his checkup. I notice that when he is asleep he snores and appears to stop breathing. He never mentioned this to his doctor. Should he? I have heard this can cause sexual problems in men.

A: Yes, definitely. More than 50 percent of men with severe sleep apnea suffer from ED. The low oxygen levels that result from the apneas have a negative effect on the ability of blood vessels to dilate. This causes problems with blood supply to the penis and is probably the root cause. The good news is that if treated, a majority of men will be able to obtain an erection without medication.

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

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