Treatment for Sleep Apnea
The goal of sleep apnea treatment is to restore regular nighttime breathing and relieve symptoms of the condition. Common options include lifestyle changes, continuous positive airway pressure, and a mouthpiece. Although medications are generally not effective, decongestants may be helpful if nasal congestion is contributing to breathing problems.
Several different treatments for sleep apnea are available, depending on an individual's medical history and the severity of the condition.
Sleep apnea can be treated with:
- Lifestyle changes
- Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)
Most treatment begins with lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, quitting smoking, and avoiding alcohol and medications that relax the central nervous system (for example, sedatives and muscle relaxants). Some people are helped by special pillows or devices that keep them from sleeping on their backs, or oral appliances (mouthpieces) that keep the airway open during sleep.
If the previously mentioned ways to treat sleep apnea are not effective, doctors often recommend continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). CPAP consists of a face mask that is attached to a tube, and a machine that blows pressurized air into the mask and through the airway to keep it open.
Surgical procedures can be used to remove tissue and widen the airway. Some individuals may need a combination of therapies to successfully relieve their sleep apnea.