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Can Sleep Apnea Cause Migraines

Can Sleep Apnea Cause Migraines

Sleep Apnea: Migraines/Headaches

The relationship between sleep apnea and migraine is not a direct one. Headache, yes. Migraine, no. So here is the bridge inconsistent and/or poor quality sleep is one of the biggest migraine triggers. Compared to the average person, those of us with migraine have between a 2 and 8 times higher likelihood of having sleep disorders, not just apnea.

What Is A Sleep Apnea Headache

Sleep apnea headaches are a recurring headache that some people with obstructive sleep apnea experience upon waking up, at least 15 days per month. They are characterized by a pressing, not pulsing, pain that is usually felt across both sides of the head, and can last up to four hours. Unlike some other types of headaches, sleep apnea headaches are not accompanied by nausea or sensitivity to light and sound.

Estimates vary, but researchers believe up to 18% of people with OSA have sleep apnea headaches. OSA is a sleep-related breathing disorder5 that causes multiple temporary pauses in breathing throughout the night. These pauses can occur due to either a partial or complete obstruction of the persons airway. The severity of a persons OSA is rated according to the apnea-hypopnea index , which calculates how many respiratory events they experience per hour each night.

To be diagnosed as a sleep apnea headache, a person must have a diagnosis of OSA with an AHI of 5 or higher. Otherwise, what they are experiencing is a morning headache, which has similar symptoms. People with OSA may be up to three times more likely to experience morning headaches.

What Do Sleep Apnea Headaches Feel Like

Sleep apnea headaches usually occur while the person is awake, however, some people experience them frequently throughout the night the most common time for such headaches is right before going to sleep as well as upon waking in the night. Some of the most common complaints about sleep apnea headaches include feeling tired and intense pain that is often described as sharp and piercing.

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The Link Between Sleep Headache And Mood

The same brain regions and chemical messengers impact sleep, headache and mood, so inadequate or poor quality sleep increases the odds for headache and mood change. For example, people living with migraine who also experience insomnia often suffer from anxiety or depression, which are also common migraine comorbidities. An effective migraine treatment plan would factor in the patients medical history and psychological factors.

Location Of Sleep Apnea Headache

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Different triggers cause different headache types, and thats why we may experience day long pain, episodical pain or pain in different parts of the head. Here are three common headache types:

  • Tension. Tension sleep apnea headache location is usually around your forehead, the back of the head and neck. It may be caused by muscle tension during low quality sleep. Can sleep apnea cause headaches and neck pain? Yes.
  • Migraines. These are associated with the pain on one side of the head and throbbing or pulsing feelings. But often sleep apnea and migraine headaches are felt on both sides.
  • Cluster. Cluster headaches and sleep apnea accompanied by intense pain on one side of the head are often located behind or around the eye. It may last from between 30 minutes to 2 hours several times per week.

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Demographics And Baseline Characteristics

Of the 12,810 respondents with valid data, most were women and white and had a mean age of 41.3 years . Compared with those with EM, respondents with CM had a similar mean age , were more likely to be women and white , had a higher mean BMI , and were less likely to be employed either full-time, part-time, or selfemployed .

How Are Headaches And Sleep Apnea Related

Headache and sleep have an interdependent relationship.2 Headache may be intrinsically related to sleep , may cause sleep disturbance or a manifestation of a sleep disorder like obstructive sleep apnea, report Niranjan N. Singh and Pradeep Sahota in Current Treatment Options in Neurology. While our understanding of sleep and headaches has improved over the years, we continue to discover more information as we study this relationship more.

Headache sufferers have a greater risk for developing sleep apnea and other sleep disorders. In fact, their risk is 2 to 8 times greater than those who dont suffer from frequent headaches.3 The pathophysiologic background for a relation between sleep apnea and morning headache is multifactorial, with theories including changing oxygen saturation and cerebral vasodilation and increased intracranial pressure due to cerebral vasodilation but the definite cause of headaches in sleep apnea patients is not yet clear.4

Nearly half of all migraines occur between 4 am and 9 am. The pattern of waking up frequently with a headache is an indicator that the headache may be sleep-related. A good proportion of sleep apnea-related headaches will improve or resolve completely with treatment for the sleep apnea.3

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The Difficult Search For Effective Treatment

I had to be very careful not to get stuck in a cycle of medication overuse. That was a challenge because at the time this started I had not yet started any medication therapy for either condition. My neurologist took the time to listen to my issues and helped me get on a medication regimen to try and prevent my migraine attacks.

I tried dozens of medication combinations hoping to find the one that would free me of these ailments. It was discouraging to hear that men were harder to treat for migraine than women from my neurologist. Treatment for me has always seemed to be an uphill battle that continues today. If I wasnt battling with the side effects of the medications, I was trying to jump through hoops to get my insurance carrier to authorize treatments or therapies for migraine.

What Is Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea and Headaches

Sleep apnea can be a serious condition. When someone has sleep apnea, the oxygen supply to their brain is disrupted while they are sleeping. It can happen from a brain disorder called central sleep apnea. This is when the brain fails to signal the respiratory system to breathe properly. More commonly, apnea is due to blockages or temporary collapsing of the airway that can occur during sleep. The brain sends the signals to breathe but the persons airway isnt staying open. This type of apnea is called obstructive sleep apnea. The incidence of sleep apnea has increased in the United States and is estimated to effect 26% of adults between the ages of 30 and 70 years old.

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Morning Headaches Snoring Could Signal A Sleep Disorder

July 17, 2001 Those frequent morning headaches may not be the biggest of your problems. People who wake up often with headaches especially snorers may suffer from a disorder called sleep apnea, according to research presented last month in New York at the 10th International Headache Congress.

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And sleep apnea should not be taken lightly. When untreated, it puts people at high risk for heart attack and stroke.

There are two types of sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the rear of the throat collapses and closes during sleep. In central sleep apnea, the airway is not blocked but the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe.

Because breathing stops so often, the person does not receive sufficient oxygen, causing carbon dioxide to build in the blood. This affects the nervous system as well as blood flow to the brain, causing headache as well as memory and mood changes, says Jeanetta Rains, PhD.

And the alteration in blood oxygen levels increases risk for cardiovascular problems, says Rains, director of the Center for Sleep Evaluation at Elliot Hospital in Manchester, N.H., and adjunct assistant professor of psychiatry at Dartmouth Medical School in Lebanon, N.H.

In her study, Rains analyzed the various complaints of more than 800 patients being tested for sleep-related problems.

Sleep Apnea What Is It & How You Can Sleep Better

Sleep apnea is a serious condition that can lead to serious health problems, so its important to get diagnosed if you think you have it. Sleep apnea is a common cause of daytime sleepiness and disruption in your breathing pattern while you sleep.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a common problem that affects a persons breathing during sleep, during which air cannot flow normally into the lungs. OSA occurs due to an obstruction in the upper airway that prevents breathing for several seconds or minutes at a time. The obstruction can be caused by excess tissue in your throat or by relaxed muscles in your throat that collapse inward and block the airway.

This causes three major problems:

  • Snoring : If you snore, you may have mild or severe OSA. Even if you dont snore every night, you may still have OSA because its common for people with OSA to stop breathing many times during sleep without making any noise.
  • Daytime drowsiness : Breathing pauses disrupt normal patterns of sleep and reduce the amount of oxygen in your blood, which can leave you feeling tired and unable to concentrate during the day.
  • Morning headaches : A lack of oxygen and overnight swelling of tissues around your brain can cause headaches as soon as you wake up.

People with this condition are often advised to sleep on their side with a pillow propping up their head at an angle of 30 to 45 degrees. This position keeps the airway open while still allowing for normal breathing.

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Obstructive Sleep Apnea And Weight Gain

As you can see after reading this article, obstructive sleep apnea and weight gain are a perfect match. They complement and depend on each other in many ways. When you gain weight, some areas of your body seem to suffer more. Fat accumulates everywhere, including your neck. That, in turn, creates more pressure on throat tissues and obstructs normal breathing during sleep.

So, if youre overweight, be ready to develop sleep apnea. If you have OSA, be ready to gain weight.

Curing sleep apnea and losing weight should be done simultaneously. You can always monitor the quality of your sleep with the help of Goodsomnia Lab and find effective ways for OSA treatment with us.

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Why Would Apnea Cause Headaches

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Obviously, we breathe for a reason. When we stop breathing, the oxygen in our blood decreases and the carbonic gas increases. This triggers different reactions in the body, like hypertension. All these metabolic changes during the night are thought to trigger the morning headaches.

The apneas disrupt the quality of the sleep and lead to daytime sleepiness, somnolence and fatigue. This may have a significant impact on migraine.

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Asthma Secondary To Sleep Apnea

Asthma is a condition that affects a persons airways and makes it difficult for them to breathe. With asthma, the airways narrow and produce extra mucus. This can often interfere with daily life. Symptoms of asthma can include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath, coughing, or wheezing
  • A whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling
  • Coughing or wheezing attacks that are worsened by a respiratory virus, such as a cold or the flu

Research has indicated that people who have asthma are more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea. This could be because both asthma and sleep apnea affect the upper and lower respiratory tracts. When the throat muscles are weakened due to asthma, there is a greater likelihood for the throat to collapse and create an obstruction of the airway.

Are There Medications I Can Take For Sleep Apnea

Trying to get a better sleep with medications is challenging because there is no single medication that has proven helpful in solving sleep problems for people with migraine. Also, you can develop tolerance to the drug, so that medication becomes less effective over time.

For both of these reasons, sleep problems can often benefit from a flexible, experimental approach that utilizes a variety of strategies.

There are a lot of over-the-counter products like Melatonin and Valerian, simple antihistamines such as Benadryl and Tylenol PM and Advil PM, or doxylamine .

But… sleep apnea and migraine headaches, medication wise, can be tricky.

It is not recommended to take certain medications if you have sleep apnea I advise against it unless you work closely with your doctor who knows your whole health history.

Using something natural and calming that will help both your sleep apnea and migraine headaches like calcium, magnesium, 5-HTP, melatonin – these are much better options. “Other non-prescription sleep aids include passion flower and chamomile. Amino acids, such as L-theanine and L-tryptophan are sometimes helpful when other treatments fail.”

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Robust Association Between Migraine And Sleep Apnea

Pauline Anderson

AMSTERDAM Patients with migraine, especially chronic migraine, are at increased risk for sleep disturbances, including sleep apnea , a new study suggests.

About 37% of patients with migraine responding to a survey were deemed to be at high risk for SA, which is much higher than estimates in the general population.

And because over 75% of migraine respondents with SA were diagnosed by a physician, it may be worthwhile to start asking our patients about this, said Dawn C. Buse, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist and associate professor, Department of Neurology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, New York City.

We havent tested this yet, but the hope is that if sleep apnea is associated with more frequent headaches, treating sleep apnea might benefit headache.

Dr Buse, who is also director of behavioral medicine for the Montefiore Headache Center in New York City, presented the new results from the Chronic Migraine Epidemiology and Outcomes study at the Congress of the European Academy of Neurology 2017.

Both depression and anxiety have a bidirectional relationship with migraine, Dr Buse told delegates. Such a relationship also exists in sleep disorders sleep disorders can aggravate migraine and migraines can worsen sleep disorders.

Researchers recruited participants from an online panel by using quota sampling. Survey invitations were sent to 16,763 CaMEO study respondents, of whom 12,810 provided valid data.

Sleep Apnea Headaches Vs Migraines

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This is not to say that those who suffer from sleep apnea do not also suffer from migraines. Migraines can be triggered by dilated blood vessels as well as lack of sleep. There are four significant differences between migraines and sleep apnea headaches.

  • Sleep apnea headaches are generally on both sides of the head, while migraines are usually felt only on one side
  • These types of headaches generally resolve themselves as a person gets fresh air, while migraines can last for hours or days
  • Sleep apnea headaches occur fairly regularly , while migraines do not usually follow a pattern
  • Migraines are accompanied by symptoms that sleep apnea headaches do not have, such as visual impairments, nausea, and dizziness
  • Cluster headaches can also be caused by sleep apnea. Sufferers describe this pain as worse than childbirth. Clearly, sleep apnea is a complicated disorder that can have complications.

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    Lifestyle And Dietary Changes

    Weight loss is essential when it comes to sleep apnea. But, it also seems to be essential in regards to headaches and migraines. Studies show that people with excessive weight are more likely to develop different types of headaches and migraines. Sleep apnea patients usually struggle with weight gain as well, so weight loss would be effective concerning both problems.

    So, what you can do is introduce some dietary and lifestyle changes to lose weight. Try eating more vegetables, fruits, nuts, lean meat, and healthy fats. You can check out some of the worlds most healthy diets, like the Mediterranean diet, or some of the healthiest cuisines, like Greek, Italian, Japanese, Indian, Spanish, or South Korean.

    These diets and cuisines are based on veggies, lean meat, and healthy fats they will not only help you lose weight but also deal with sleep disturbances and improve the immune system. Healthy diets also lower the chances of cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

    Moreover, it is essential you stay active. Physical activity and regular exercise will have you lose weight fast and healthy. It is also great to stay active because it helps your CPAP treatment have better effects. Regular training improves the health of your lungs and strengthens the muscles in your whole body, especially the ones necessary for proper breathing. Exercise is also known to lower headache risk or to mitigate the symptoms as well.

    How Does Sleep Apnea Contribute To Migraines

    People living with migraines are much more likely to experience sleep disorders, up to eight times compared to those who do not experience migraines. Although there is a strong correlation between obstructive sleep apnea and morning headaches, the morning headache symptoms are different from a chronic migraine headache. Sleep apnea-induced headaches will often improve or subside on there own , while a migraine could last for up to 72 hours without the right treatment. In addition, while migraine headaches throb, apnea-induced headaches usually ache. Furthermore, while sleep apnea can trigger tension-type headaches in some individuals, in others, it can cause migraine attacks.

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    Headache Treatment In Sarnia

    At Dr. Karen Davis Dentistry, we screen each patient for oral signs and symptoms of sleep apnea. If youre a frequent migraine headache sufferer, Dr. Davis will help you identify the least-invasive therapy to treat your symptoms and work hand in hand with your medical doctor for the best results. For oral sleep apnea and headache relief, call our practice today!


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