Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common sleep disorder affecting millions of people globally. One of the major symptoms of OSA is excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), which can lead to difficulty in completing daily tasks and even pose a threat to safety while driving or operating machinery. While positive airway pressure (PAP) masks are commonly used to treat OSA, they do not always eliminate EDS. Therefore, researchers are exploring the effectiveness of medications in reducing daytime sleepiness in OSA patients.
A team of researchers from McMaster University in Canada conducted a review of 14 clinical trials involving 3,085 OSA patients with EDS. The researchers compared the effectiveness of three anti-fatigue medications: solriamfetol, armodafinil-modafinil, and pitolisant, with placebos. The study found that all three medications were more effective than placebos in combating EDS to varying degrees. Solriamfetol was found to offer the biggest statistical difference over a placebo in terms of wakefulness when data from all the trials was combined. Armodafinil-modafinil and pitolisant were found to “probably improve” some, but not all, measures of wakefulness after a month of use.
Long-term Effects and Other Illnesses
The researchers also noted that there is little evidence on the long-term effects of these medications on OSA patients and that more research is needed in this area. Additionally, the researchers believe that these medications could be effective in treating related illnesses such as chronic fatigue syndrome and long COVID. However, more research is needed to determine the efficacy of these medications in treating these conditions.
While two of the medications studied are already prescribed for OSA and EDS, pitolisant is still under review by the US FDA. The choice of medication prescribed by a doctor will depend on the patient’s personal health profile and other factors. Additionally, the study found that side effects could be an issue with armodafinil-modafinil and solriamfetol, and care needs to be taken when prescribing these medications. Solriamfetol, for example, has been linked to an increase in blood pressure.
The study conducted by the researchers from McMaster University in Canada provides hope for OSA patients with EDS who struggle with completing daily tasks and maintaining safety. While PAP masks are commonly used to treat OSA, they do not always eliminate EDS. The study found that solriamfetol, armodafinil-modafinil, and pitolisant are effective in combating EDS in OSA patients to varying degrees. However, more research is needed to determine the long-term effects of these medications and their efficacy in treating related illnesses such as chronic fatigue syndrome and long COVID. The choice of medication prescribed by a doctor will depend on the patient’s personal health profile and other factors, and care needs to be taken when prescribing these medications due to potential side effects.