Sleep apnea is a condition in which breathing is repeatedly interrupted during sleep. The time period for which the breathing stops or decreases is usually 10-30 seconds. When these episodes occur repeatedly, sleep apnea can seriously disrupt the quality of sleep.
There are a number of treatment options for sleep apnea, including:
Lose weight if you are overweight.
Avoid using sedatives, sleeping pills, alcohol, and nicotine, which tend to make the condition worse.
Try sleeping on your side instead of your back.
Place pillows strategically so you are as comfortable as possible.
For daytime sleepiness, practice safety measures, such as avoiding driving or operating potentially hazardous equipment.
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)
entails wearing a mask over your nose and/or mouth during sleep. An air blower forces enough constant and continuous air through your air passages to prevent the tissues from collapsing and blocking the airway. In some cases, dental appliances that help keep the tongue or jaw in a more forward position may help.
In some cases, surgery may be recommended. Surgery can be used to:
Remove excess soft tissue from the nose and/or throat
Reposition the jawbone and tongue
Create an opening in the windpipe for unobstructed breathing (in life-threatening cases)
Only used in central apnea,
may help improve the ability to regulate breathing. Overall, there is not a lot of evidence to support the use of medications to treat sleep apnea.
Supplemental oxygen may be given if blood levels of oxygen fall too low during sleep, even after opening the airway.
You may be able to prevent the onset of sleep apnea by maintaining a healthy weight. Avoid alcohol, nicotine, and sedatives, which may contribute to airway obstruction.
Kushida CA, Littner MR, Hirshkowitz M, et al. Practice parameters for the use of continuous and bilevel positive airway pressure devices to treat adults with sleep-related breathing disorders.
Littner MR, Kushida C, Wise M, et al. Practice parameters for clinical use of the multiple sleep latency test and the maintenance of wakefulness test.
Morgenthaler TI, Kapen S, Lee-Chiong T, et al. Practice parameters for the medical therapy of obstructive sleep apnea.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a