Q. Can migraine be a causative factor for obstructive sleep apnea?

Answered by
Dr. Muhammad Zubayer Alam
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Feb 21, 2022 and last reviewed on: Oct 21, 2022

Hello doctor,

I am diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. The sleep study test was done to confirm the same. I am usually exposed to highly polluted particulate matter, which I have read in multiple medical studies as a contributing factor to OSA. I am also diagnosed with Odontoideum, straightening cervical lordosis, and straightening cervical spondylosis.

I am usually exhausted during the day. I developed heavy snoring during military service. My wife noticed me waking up gasping that I could even stop breathing while asleep. I also developed migraines which often began in the mornings. I am taking multi-vitamins and CPAP.

I developed OSA while I was active but never sought medical treatment for it until I got out in fear of getting kicked out of the military. The VA is giving me a difficult time because I was not diagnosed with OSA while active, and I need a medical opinion letter to help make my case. The letter needs to read, "the veteran's OSA is just as likely not to have been caused or made worse by his military service."

Please help. I do not want to lose compensation because I want to continue serving my country.



Welcome to

You are diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). The symptoms that you have already mentioned are the typical features of OSA. Several studies have shown the linkage between OSA and exposure to the chemicals and fumes of burn pits. Toxins from burn pits may relax the muscles in the throat and cause OSA. The airway can also constrict when the fumes of burn pits enter his airway by inhalation. According to your wife's statement, you had a previous history of snoring that can be aggravated by exposure to the chemicals and fumes of burn pits.

A migraine is an excellent option for you because migraine was developed due to exposure to toxic chemicals and fumes of burn pits. Veteran affairs (VA) consider three conditions, asthma, sinusitis, and rhinitis, associated with exposure to the chemicals and fumes of burn pits. However, the VA may consider migraine as a presumed condition. So, you can get benefits by relating your migraine to the OSA.

I have not yet examined you physically, so I can not provide any certificate. A doctor cannot give you a health certificate without a physical examination. However, you can consult your doctor regarding your case.

CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) is an effective treatment option for OSA. Also, weight reduction in case of obesity or surgical removal of excess tissue from the palate or throat may help to subside OSA permanently.

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