Treating Sleep Apnea May Ease Night Bathroom Trips

MONDAY, March 27, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Millions of Americans battle bothersome nighttime conditions, such as sleep apnea or the need to get up frequently to urinate.

Now, new research suggests that treating the former condition with CPAP “mask” therapy might also help ease the latter.

“This is the first study to show the true incidence of nocturia — peeing at night — in patients who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. It’s also the first study to show the size of the effect of positive pressure mask treatment [CPAP] in patients with obstructive sleep apnea on their nocturia symptoms,” said lead researcher Sajjad Rahnama’i, of Maastricht University Medical Center in the Netherlands.

Rahnama’i presented his team’s findings Sunday at the European Association of Urology (EAU) annual meeting in London.

One U.S. apnea expert who reviewed the new findings said apnea and nighttime overactive bladder often go together.

“No one is certain why this association occurs, although there are plausible theories,” said Dr. Alan Mensch, chief of pulmonary medicine at Plainview Hospital in Plainview, N.Y.

“It is known that untreated sleep apnea patients produce a larger urine volume at night,” he said. Also, the oxygen depletion that occurs in episodes of sleep apnea stimulate blood flow to the kidneys, Mensch said, and simply being awakened may also make people more aware of the need to pee.

Whatever the cause, Mensch said research shows that almost one-third of men aged 60 and older are bothered by nocturia.

Could treating sleep apnea lower that number? To find out, the Dutch researchers tracked outcomes for 256 people who were treated for obstructive sleep apnea with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). In this therapy, patients receive a constant stream of air through a mask, which helps prevent their airways from collapsing during sleep.

Before starting CPAP, 69 percent of the patients had to get up more than once a night to urinate, Rahnama’i’s team noted.

However, after starting CPAP, nighttime pee breaks were reduced in nearly two-thirds of those patients. For example, 32 of the 77 patients who previously got up twice a night to pee could go the whole night without doing so after they started on CPAP, the researchers explained in an EAU news release.

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