Fatigue And Multiple Sclerosis, Along With UARS

There are probably a thousand different reasons for someone to be tired. Many people with neurologic conditions tend to report being overly tired. Not too surprisingly, fatigue was found to be reported as the first symptom with multiple sclerosis (MS), long before the first signs of MS show up. We know that MS is an autoimmune condition, where various parts of the brain are affected, leading to a number of different symptoms. But one thing I’ve noticed is that almost every person with MS also seems to have the upper airway anatomy of someone with upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS).

Women are more likely to suffer from both UARS and MS. They typically are thin, and won’t snore. Both groups in general tend to avoid back sleeping, and have narrow jaws with high arched hard palate. Women with (UARS) are more likely to have autoimmune conditions. Many will also have cold hands and feet, and have at least one parent that snores heavily. Whenever I look at their airways with an endoscope, the space just behind the tongue is usually only a few millimeters, especially when lying flat on their back.

My suspicions must be proven with prospective studies, but the similarities are pretty striking. Since we know that sleep-breathing problems can cause major structural and biochemical damage to the brain, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone proves that these two conditions are strongly connected. Just to be clear, I’m not talking about obstructive sleep apnea. Rather, people with UARS are unable to attain deep quality sleep due to frequent microobstructions and arousals, without frank apneas or hypopneas.

If anyone reading this has MS, do you have cold hands or feet? Can you sleep on your back at all? Do your parents snore heavily?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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7 thoughts on “Fatigue And Multiple Sclerosis, Along With UARS

  1. I have MS.

    I NEVER sleep on my back.

    Yes, cold hands and feet.

    My father was a notorious snorer.

    I don’t snore.

    Sleep study shows I have hypopnas, but not apneas.

  2. I have MS. I have always preferred sleeping on my left side or stomach. Mainly because sleeping on my back is uncomfortable. My hands and feet are almost always cold and feel a bit numb at times. I do not snore but I know my dad does or at least he used to snore.

  3. I have UARS & use CPAP
    I always have cold hands and feet.
    I always sleep on my side or on my stomach.
    My Dad snored.
    I do not have MS……but I have 2 sisters that do.
    We all had same beginning symptom….Optic neuritis…..blindness in one eye.
    I have Extreme fatigue (excessive daytime sleepiness). Whatever.
    Taking 20 mg of dextroamphetamine at 8am, 10 am and one 10 mg at noon to get through work day, after 1 pm I am screwed, hard to talk, think and drive. No life after 5 pm.
    Last couple years have been under lots of stress.
    Body hurts, and ALWAYS feel like I have heavy weights attached to legs.
    I’m 44, female, about 120 lbs. and sad.
    Sister thinks MS
    Going to neurologist and have another sleep study, both within next couple weeks.

  4. I just picked up sleep lab report, trying to piece together if I have MS (I have at least 20 symptoms that match MS). Turns out my neuro knew I had UARS but didn’t tell me. He also misdiagnosed a “stroke” which I have not had (according to three other neurologists looking at three MRIs so far that do show T2 foci lesions). I have all the symptoms and sleep habits you note. And at least one parent who snored. I’m starting to snore myself even when I’m awake but lying down or resting on my back!

  5. I was finally dinegosad with sleep apnea and after much adjustment of masks and air flow pressure, I now use my mask about 5 nights a week. What a huge difference. I notice it not only how I feel during the day (more energy, better color in my face the pale/gray is gone, no buzzing headaches) but also in my morning swim. I am not gasping for breath at the end of every lap. I have been swimming 1/2 mile a couple of times a week for years so this has been great news! Best of luck. This will be a huge improvement for you if indeed that is the issue

  6. Hi Dr Park,

    I have a different condition (with similar symptoms to MS) called adrenomyeloneuropathy. Your description of UARS fits me completely. I thought some of my symtpoms were due to my condition, but I now can see they are part of UARS. Have just had a sleep study, and planning on getting myself a CPAP. For 10 years, I have been exhausted, and in the last year or so, I felt like I was dying. Now I understand why. I would be very interested to know if there is a link with neurological symptoms and UARS. Thanks so much….this has given me new hope.

  7. Ms. Gray,

    Hopefully, you’ll begin sleeping better with CPAP. In general, even if you don’t officially have sleep apnea, if you can try CPAP, it’s worth the investment. It doesn’t work all the time with UARS, but worth trying. Poor sleep can definitely aggravate any underlying neurological issues. Good luck.