Q. I suffered from migraine headaches for many years, with the only relief being very strong medications. I learned to live with them, predict them and their severity and treat them without drugs if they were caught early enough.
Then I had a sleep study done. I was diagnosed with severe apnea and supplied with a CPAP. I questioned the doctor at length when he almost guaranteed me that my headaches would lessen in frequency. He said that I was suffering from oxygen deprivation.
I have used the CPAP every night since then (12 years), and my need for migraine meds dropped 80 to 90 percent. CPAP saved my life.
A. CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) is a device used to treat snoring and other problems related to sleep apnea (intermittent failure to breathe during sleep). A recent study has found that sleep apnea resulting in low oxygen levels is associated with a greater likelihood of cognitive decline and even dementia in elderly women (JAMA, Aug. 10, 2011).
We are delighted to hear that addressing your sleep apnea has had such a dramatic effect on your migraines. We discuss other approaches to overcoming such problems in our Guide to Headaches & Migraines.