Most treatments begin with lifestyle changes, such as: losing weight, avoiding alcohol, and stopping any medications that relax the muscles of the upper respiratory tract. Some people are helped by special devices or pillows that prevent them from sleeping in certain positions that make it easier to close their airways. Oral appliances can also be used to ensure that the airways remain open during sleep. If these methods do not offer sufficient improvement to the patient's condition, doctors often recommend continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment. This treatment uses a mask to provide a flow of pressurized air to the airways, keeping them open so the user can breathe. There are also surgical procedures that can be used to remove tissue and widen the airways. Sometimes one of these methods is enough. Other times, people may need a combination of these methods to cure sleep apnea.
Treatments for obstructive sleep apnea: non-surgical
Non-surgical treatments for obstructive sleep apnea include:
• Behavior changes.
• CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) treatment.
• Dental appliances.
Behavioral changes to reduce or eliminate sleep apnea.
Behavioral changes are the easiest way to treat mild obstructive sleep apnea. In these cases, one or more of the following behaviors can reduce the patient's apnea.
Sleep apnea is often related to weight. Excess fat around the neck area makes the airways narrow, increasing the likelihood of blockages. For overweight people with mild sleep apnea, weight loss may be an effective treatment. It can also reduce the severity of sleep apnea. An important point to keep in mind is that losing weight can be very difficult for people with sleep apnea because they may feel too tired to exercise during the day. Weight loss also becomes difficult for people with sleep apnea because they use food as a means of staying awake. Additionally, weight loss is a gradual process that can take a long time before significant changes occur. Therefore, a combination of treatments can help reduce or eliminate sleep apnea in a shorter period of time.
Avoid alcohol and certain medications:
Drinking alcohol or taking sleeping pills and other pain relievers can relax your throat muscles and block your airways. They can also make the brain more "sleepy" and difficult to wake up when there is a lack of oxygen in the body (which is the natural response). This can cause more severe pauses in breathing.
Sleeping on your side:
Sleep apnea can be made worse if you sleep on your back. While in this position, the tongue is more likely to roll back and block the airway. This position also allows the airway muscles to collapse and block the airway. Therefore, sleeping on your side can help reduce the amount of apneas (cessation of breathing).