Sleep Care

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A Sleep Apnea Pill?

For years medical researchers have been trying to develop a pill for the treatment of sleep apnea, a disorder that has been devoid of any pharmaceutical therapies. More recently clinical trials have yielded promising results by adapting existing serotonin therapies.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is known to affect mood, appetite and sleep. The nerves that control breathing need a certain amount of serotonin in order to do their job. An improperly-working serotonin system deprives the body of an adequate supply of the neurotransmitter, resulting in sleep apnea.

While no drugs have been approved for the market, certain trials have shown significant improvements for apneics who received serotonin treatments. Two separate serotonin studies yielded average decreases in AHI of 40% and 28%, with three out of ten participants from one study showing AHI improvements of over 50%.  “The results from this trial demonstrate the potential of this pharmacotherapy to decrease sleep apnea in some patients and to normalize it in others,” said sleep expert Dr Thomas Roth, current director of the Sleep Disorders and Research Center at Henry Ford Hospital and former president of the National Sleep Foundation.

More research must be done before any treatments are readily available to the public. It is also unlikely that a pharmaceutical treatment will prove effective on all cases of sleep apnea, a disorder that can be caused by variety of reasons. At this point the most effective way to treat Sleep Apnea remains a CPAP machine and/or weight-loss.

 

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