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Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) or other sleep problems may indicate another health issue, according to the results of a small study of 22 participants. Sleep problems can be part of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, and bipolar disorder, among other disorders. The participants being examined for OSA also were assessed for the degree of sleep apnea and the level of attention impairment.
The researchers found that 55% of the participants showed pronounced attention impairment at the study's onset. Significant improvement was observed, however, after the patients received continuous positive airway pressure treatment. Another 18% of the patients still continued to have serious attention-deficit problems even after treatment, however. They were diagnosed with adult attention-deficit disorder and needed medication and skills training. Further testing found that many of the patients also had fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and depression. (The findings were reported during the American College of Chest Physicians meeting, October 25, 2005.)