Can Sleep Apnea Cause Seizures? Yes, But These Tips Can Help

It’s no secret that a good night’s sleep is important for overall health and well-being. But for people with sleep apnea, it’s even more critical.

That’s because sleep apnea is a severe sleep disorder that can lead to serious health consequences, including seizures.

In this article, we’ll look at the link between sleep apnea and seizures and what you can do to keep both under control.

bUT fIRST: What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep problem which affects breathing and makes it stop and start during sleep. It can happen several times throughout the night and can last for seconds or even minutes at a time.

Although many people with sleep apnea snore loudly, not everyone who snores does so because of sleep apnea.

There Are Two Main Types of Sleep Apnea:

1. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the throat muscles relax and block the airway.

2. Central sleep apnea (CSA): This type of sleep apnea happens when the brain doesn’t send signals to the muscles that control breathing.

Sleep apnea can happen to anyone, but it’s more common in people who are overweight, have large tonsils or have a family history of sleep apnea. It’s also more common in men than women and usually occurs after age 40.

What are seizures?

A seizure is a sudden burst of electrical activity in the brain. Seizures can cause many symptoms, from temporary loss of consciousness to muscle spasms and convulsions.

Some people with seizures only experience mild symptoms, while others may be left with permanent neurological damage.

There Are Two Main Types of Seizures:

1. Generalized seizures: These seizures affect the whole brain and can cause loss of consciousness.

2. Focal seizures: These seizures start in one area of the brain and can cause muscle spasms or changes in behaviour.

Seizures can be caused by various things, including head injuries, stroke, brain tumours and infectious diseases. Certain medications or illegal drugs can also cause them.

What is the difference between a seizure and sleep apnea?

The main difference between a seizure and sleep apnea is that a seizure is an electrical disturbance in the brain, while sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes breathing to stop and start during sleep.

However, both can cause similar symptoms, such as muscle spasms and convulsions.

What are the Health Risks of Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is more than just a nuisance. It’s a severe sleep disorder that can lead to many health risks, including:

1. High blood pressure

2. Heart disease

3. Stroke

4. Diabetes

5. Obesity

6. Depression

7. Anxiety

8. Memory problems

9. Mood swings

10. Impotence

11. Seizures

What is the link between sleep apnea and seizures?

Sleep apnea can increase the risk of seizures in a few different ways. First, sleep apnea can cause oxygen levels to drop during sleep. This can lead to brain cell death and damage, which can, in turn, cause seizures.

Sleep apnea can also increase the risk of seizures by causing changes in the brain’s electrical activity. These changes can make the brain more likely to have a seizure.

Finally, sleep apnea can increase the risk of seizures by causing sleep deprivation. This is because people with sleep apnea wake up frequently throughout the night, which prevents them from getting a good night’s sleep. Sleep deprivation can lead to a variety of health problems, including seizures.

How can Sleep Apnea Cause Seizures?

Seizures are a relatively rare complication of sleep apnea, but they can happen. Two main ways sleep apnea can cause seizures are by lowering the oxygen levels in the blood and causing changes in the brain waves.

Oxygen Levels: Sleep apnea can cause oxygen levels in the blood to drop. This can happen because of a reduction in breathing or poor ventilation during sleep. When oxygen levels drop, it can trigger a seizure.

Brain Waves: Sleep apnea can also cause changes in the brain waves. These changes can be caused by the apnea itself or by the treatment for sleep apnea, which is often continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). Changes in brain waves can lead to seizures.

Seizures that are caused by sleep apnea are called hypnogenic seizures. They’re usually brief and don’t cause any lasting damage. However, they can be dangerous if they happen while driving or operating machinery.

If you have sleep apnea and are having seizures, you must see a doctor. Sleep apnea can be treated, and medication can usually control seizures.

What are the signs of seizures in your sleep?

There are a few different ways that seizures can manifest during sleep. The most common symptom is called a nocturnal seizure, which is a seizure that happens during sleep.

Nocturnal seizures can cause a variety of symptoms, including:

1. Sudden jerking or convulsing of the body

2. Loss of consciousness

3. Bizarre behaviours or movements

4. Temporary paralysis

5. Sleepwalking

6. Night terrors

7. Bedwetting

8. Sleep talking

9. Nightmares

Most people with nocturnal seizures don’t remember having them when they wake up. However, some people may have partial recall of the event.

Another type of seizure that can happen during sleep is hypnagogic. These seizures happen as you’re falling asleep.

Hypnagogic seizures are usually brief and don’t cause any lasting damage. However, they can be dangerous if they happen while driving or operating machinery.

If you think you might have seizures during sleep, you must see a doctor. Seizures can be a symptom of a serious underlying condition but thankfully can be treated.

If You Have Sleep Apnea Symptoms and Seizures, What Should You Do?

If you have sleep apnea and are having seizures, you must see a doctor. Sleep apnea can be treated, and medication can usually control seizures.

In some cases, surgery may be necessary to treat sleep apnea. However, if you have sleep apnea and seizures, your doctor will likely recommend a sleep study to determine the best course of treatment.

A sleep study can help diagnose sleep apnea and seizures. If you have sleep apnea, you may be treated with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). CPAP is a machine that helps keep your airways open while you sleep.

In some cases, surgery may be necessary to treat sleep apnea. However, if you have sleep apnea and seizures, your doctor will likely recommend a sleep study to determine the best course of treatment.

How is sleep apnea treated?

There are a few different ways to treat sleep apnea, depending on the severity of the condition.

1. Lifestyle changes: If you have mild sleep apnea, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, quitting smoking, and sleeping on your side.

2. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP): CPAP is the most common treatment for sleep apnea. It involves wearing a mask during sleep that delivers air pressure to keep your airways open.

3. Oral appliances: Oral appliances are devices you wear in your mouth while sleeping. They help keep your airway open by bringing your lower jaw forward or holding your tongue in place.

4. Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be necessary to treat sleep apnea. Surgery is usually only recommended if other treatments haven’t worked.

How are seizures treated?

Seizures can usually be controlled with medication. However, the type of medication will depend on the type of seizure you’re experiencing.

If you have nocturnal seizures, your doctor may prescribe anticonvulsant medication. Anticonvulsants are drugs that help control seizures.

If you have hypnagogic seizures, your doctor may prescribe a sedative. Sedatives are drugs that help you relax and sleep.

In some cases, surgery may be necessary to treat seizures. However, surgery is usually only recommended if other treatments haven’t worked.

Tips on Living with sleep apnea and seizures:

If you have sleep apnea and seizures, you can do a few things to make life easier.

• Make sure to keep all of your doctor’s appointments. This will help your doctor track your condition and ensure you get the best possible treatment.

• Follow your treatment plan. If you’re not sure what your treatment plan is, be sure to ask your doctor.

• Try to stick to a healthy lifestyle. Eating right and exercising can help improve your overall health and may help reduce the severity of your sleep apnea and seizures.

• Avoid driving or operating machinery if you’re having seizures. Seizures can be dangerous, so it’s important to avoid accidents.

• Join a support group. There are many groups available for people with sleep apnea and seizures. Joining one of these groups can help you meet others who understand what you’re going through and can offer support.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can Sleep Apnea Be Misdiagnosed As Epilepsy?

Sleep apnea and epilepsy are both neurological disorders that can cause seizures. However, they are different conditions with different causes.

Sleep apnea is a condition that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. This can cause the brain to be deprived of oxygen, leading to seizures.

Epilepsy, on the other hand, is a condition that causes the brain to produce abnormal electrical activity, which can also lead to seizures. Therefore, while both conditions can cause seizures, they are different conditions and should be treated as such.

Can Sleep Apnea Be Mistaken For A Seizure?

It’s possible. Some sleep apnea symptoms, like gasping for air and temporarily stopping breathing, can resemble a seizure. And seizures can sometimes be accompanied by snoring.

But there are critical differences between the two conditions. For example, seizures are usually accompanied by convulsions or periods of unconsciousness, while sleep apnea is not. And sleep apnea generally only happens during sleep, while seizures can occur anytime.

Can Untreated Sleep Apnea Cause Epilepsy?

There’s no definitive answer, but there is some evidence that untreated sleep apnea may increase the risk of developing epilepsy. For example, one study found that people with sleep apnea were four times more likely to develop epilepsy than those without the condition.

It’s believed that sleep apnea may trigger seizures by depriving the brain of oxygen. Sleep apnea is also thought to contribute to the development of epilepsy by causing changes in the brain that make it more susceptible to seizures.

Can A Sleep Disorder Cause Seizures?

There is evidence that sleep disorders like sleep apnea and insomnia may increase the risk of seizures. For example, one study found that people with sleep apnea were more likely to develop epilepsy than those without the condition.

It’s believed that sleep disorders may trigger seizures by depriving the brain of oxygen or causing brain changes that make it more susceptible to seizures.

Can A Person Have Mini Seizures While Sleeping?

It’s possible, although not all mini seizures happen during sleep. For example, most people with epilepsy have at least some seizures while sleeping. And people with sleep disorders like sleep apnea and insomnia may be more likely to experience mini seizures.

Mini seizures generally don’t last long and don’t cause any lasting damage. But they can be disruptive and may interfere with sleep. If you think you’re having mini seizures, talk to your doctor.

How Can I Tell If My Seizures Are Sleep Apnea Related?

There is no sure way to tell if you have sleep apnea-related seizures. But if you have sleep apnea and are having seizures, you must talk to your doctor.

Your doctor may be able to diagnose sleep apnea with a sleep study. A sleep study involves spending a night in a sleep lab so that your sleep can be monitored.

Can Sleep Apnea Cause Seizures In Children?

There is some evidence that sleep apnea may increase the risk of seizures in children.

What is the long-term outlook for someone with sleep apnea and seizures?

Sleep apnea can cause seizures in some people, although the mechanism is not entirely understood.

The good news is that treating sleep apnea often improves seizure control. If you have both sleep apnea and seizures, work closely with your doctor to get the best possible treatment for both conditions.

Disclaimer: Always consult your doctor – this article is not a medical treatment replacement.