The causes of sleep apnea make it a difficult disease to treat effectively with medication. Medication has not been shown to promote effective functioning in the brain’s respiratory centers or to improve the size and efficiency of airway activity. Sedatives are often misused by apnea patients who have been falsely informed and believe that sleeping pills will help produce a good night of sleep without arousals. In reality, sedative medicines make the condition worse; they can make it difficult to wake up and reassume breathing during and after an apnea.
Even though there are no medicines that effectively treat the causes of apnea, there are medications that assist patients with other issues that are directly related to sleep apnea. There are prescription drugs that have been developed to help combat daytime sleepiness by promoting wakefulness. They are only available by prescription and are not a cure for sleep apnea; medicinal treatment for apnea is not meant to be a substitute for other forms of sleep apnea treatment. Patients who use wakefulness stimulants should be people having their apnea under control through treatment, but still experiencing excessive sleepiness during waking hours. It is ideally meant to be taken as a companion to CPAP therapy.
Provigal/Nuvigal is the prescription most often prescribed by medical professionals to decrease a patient’s level of daytime sleepiness and fatigue. Modainil is the generic name for Provigal; Armodafinil is the generic name for Nuvigal. The medicine is taken in pill form and works by targeting and affecting chemicals in the brain. Provigal targets the chemicals in the brain that relate to alertness and memory, approving the mental capacity for both. The most common side-effects of this medication are headaches, nausea, upset stomach and diarrhea, nervousness and anxiety, dizziness, insomnia, and Rhinitis- the inflammation of the tissue in the nose. In rare cases, Provigal has caused dangerous rashes on the skin, severe allergic reactions, and even serious mental health issues like suicidal thoughts or hallucinations.
Prescription medications that promote wakefulness should not be taken during pregnancy, and women who use a medical method of birth control should talk to their doctor about possible risks. Wakefulness-promoting medications may interfere with the effectiveness of birth control. Birth control that contains ethinyl estradiol, a form of estrogen, may become compromised the consumption of other medications. If you use birth control by taking pills, wearing adhesive patches, or wearing a vaginal ring, you might want to try another method of pregnancy prevention. Wafarin, Cyclosporin, and tricylic anti depressants are other medications that can be negatively effected by promotional prescriptions like Provigal. Wakefulness-promoting medications may also have a severe, dangerous effect on people who have liver disease; it should only be prescribed in small doses.