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Dr. Rick, MD
Dr. Rick, MD, Board Certified MD
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 10599
Experience:  20+ years as a doctor. Internal Medicine Internship in NYC
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Sleep seizures

Customer Question

Is it true that breathing through your nose can help prevent sleep seizures? I have had unexplained sleep seizures about once a month for a little over a year. All MRI's and EEG's came back clear, as well as stress tests, and blood tests. I read that breathing with my mouth open changes the CO2 levels and that can in turn cause seizures. My wife does say I tend to breath with my mouth open at night.  So far the doctors have been saying that this is related to anxiety, as most of the time the seizures occur on nights after a very stressful day for me.  I am on Zoloft for anxiety, and was before the seizures started.  It is a mystery to me, I would love it if something as simple as breathing through my mouth could help these go away.  Thank You, Jeff
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Medical
Expert:  Dr. Rick, MD replied 4 years ago.
I do not believe that breathing through your nose verses breathing through your mouth while sleeping would make any appreciable difference in your blood CO2 levels. That being said, if breathing through your nose is helpful then, by all means do so. It sure will not hurt anything.

One other thing you might consider is having a comprehensive sleep study done. Perhaps they could examine you while you do both kinds of sleeping and see if there are any EEG or physiologic changes noted.

Does this make sense to you?

It was a pleasure to assist you with your question. Please let me know if I can do anything else to help you in the future. Positive Feedback and/or Bonus is welcomed and appreciated.

Let me know if there is anything else you would like to discuss pertaining to this issue.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for your answer. I got that information from As a neurologist, do you know of any specific causes of nocturnal seizures? Everything from sleep apnea to high levels of anxiety have been looked into. I even quit drinking diet soda because of aspartame, and over the counter cold meds. Any suggestions would be helpful, I really dont want to be on anti-seizure meds just because I have heard a lot of the negative side effects. I appreciate your answer, and your help in this matter.

Expert:  Dr. Rick, MD replied 4 years ago.
Nocturnal seizures, as you know, are difficult to pin down. It sounds like you have had excellent care so far. I would caution you to try to NOT grasp at all the things you will find on the internet. So many of them are not based in scientific fact and can be confusing.

I think your next best bet would be a sleep study (or another one) as we have discussed. Another option would be to go to a large university hospital for the "mega-workup"

. At an institution like that you could be evaluated and treated by a team of sub-specialists who are at the cutting edge of their respective fields. The best thing about these large teaching hospitals is that consultations are available with Professors and leaders in their field by just walking a few steps down the hall.

The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota is an excellent example of just such a place as this. That being said there are many excellent teaching hospitals all across the country and I am sure that there is one near you.

If you could tell me what large city you live near and how far it would be possible for you to travel in seeking treatment I would be happy to give you some names. Of course, you could also ask friends and associates or check the internet yourself. Let me know what you would like to do.

It's safe for you to press the positive feedback button now if you so desire. And, never fear, even after you press that button I don't go up in a puff of smoke -- I'll still be right here to continue helping you at no additional charge :-)
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Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thank You Dr. Rick for your help. I am new to the Just Answer stuff and just forgot to accept your response the first time. Sorry! I live in St.Louis, I know there are a lot of good medical schools here, I just dont know which one to go to for this. My neurologist in all honesty hasn't been much help. He ran every test he could think of and when there was no clear cut answer he pretty much just said not to worry about it. I guess on the bright side, there were no tumors and the blood workup was good, and my heart stress test was fine. At least I know its not that, but those tests were about a year ago so I guess I should have it checked out again. I dont know how but I did at one point make it 3 months without having a seizure, and even if the diet soda wasnt a contributor to them I have heard some bad things about aspartame that makes me just not want that in my system. I am going to start keeping a journal, I feel like I am on the verge of figuring something out and I do think it may have to do with me not breathing right when I sleep, not quite sure how though. My final question is, what changes would you recommend I make to help eliminate these things? Is that even possible you think? Thank you for your advice. I appreciate it.
Expert:  Dr. Rick, MD replied 4 years ago.
Keeping a journal is an excellent idea and should help to pinpoint any associated issues.

I wish I had a good idea of what changes you could make to eliminate these things but, to tell the truth, from what you have posted and using "chat" as my only diagnostic tool for this complicated problem, any suggestions I could give at this point would only be a guess. It would be best to ask these questions after an extensive sleep study and, possibly, a new work up.

Are you in St. Louis Missouri? If you would like I could help you to choose a teaching hospital near you. Just let me know....