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Sleep Apnea, Opioid Pain Medication, and the Sleep Study

Tamara Kaye Sellman, RPSGT, CCSH

Chronic pain is the enemy of sleep. It leads to sleep complaints for an estimated 28 million Americans. At the same time, millions also suffer from another chronic problem: sleep apnea. Doubtless, because of the sheer numbers of people experiencing these problems, there will be crossover between these two patient populations.

Add to the equation a third variable—the use of opioid pain medications to treat chronic pain—and things get even more complicated. Patients who struggle with both pain and sleep apnea may be using opioids to treat one issue... while unwittingly exacerbating the other.

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