Letters To The Editor

In reply: Opioid therapy and sleep apnea

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In Reply: Dr. Geller makes some excellent points about sleep and opioid use.

Opioids pose risks, 1 just like any other type of medication. In particular, opioids have been linked to sleep-disordered breathing, which affects 70% to 85% of patients taking opioids. 2–4

Other options can be used in some older adults, but they are not always successful. Ideally, nonpharmacologic strategies and nonopioid medications such as acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents, antidepressants, and anticonvulsants should be used, although these medications have their own side effects. Optimum pain control may offer the potential for significant improvement in function, and opioids are but one tool in the clinician’s kit.

Ongoing discussions of the risks and benefits are necessary, along with continuous re-evaluation of the need for and effect of opioids.

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