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October 07, 2010

Sleep Apnea Can Mimic Dementia

NYT published a great article on Oct 6, 2010 regarding how obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can mimic many of the symptoms of dementia, especially in the elderly.

Symptoms of OSA that can be confused with dementia include trouble concentrating, inattention, difficulty staying focused, constantly dozing off during the day, and other cognitive deficits.

Unfortunately, many elderly patients live alone and nobody is around to see whether there are any sleep issues. Most elderly patients deny any sleeping difficulties and it is not until someone stays with them during the night (like on holidays when family members are around) that a sleep disorder is noticed.

They key thing is to consider OSA in the differential for an elderly patient who may be exhibiting some symptoms of dementia and to realize that one needs to talk to family members whether sleep issues are present.

Read the NYT article here.

Read more about OSA here.

Read a study about the relationship between OSA and dementia here.

Reference:
Cognitive Effects of Treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Alzheimer's Disease: A Randomized Controlled Study. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society Volume 56, Issue 11, pages 2076–2081, November 2008

Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids. Google+ Christopher Chang, MD Bio

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