Sleep Apnea Treatments : How to Cure Sleep Apnea...

There are still no sleep apnea treatments or cures for sleep apnea that directly address the underlying problem. This is quite simply because the exact mechanism responsible for obstructive sleep apnea is not known.

In most cases, sleep apnea medication has not proven to be a successful cure for sleep apnea. A sleep apnea surgery is effective only about 50 percent of the time because the exact location of the airway obstruction is usually unclear.

Since patients with sleep apnea usually have significant family and work problems (who can blame them when they aren't getting enough quality sleep?), an important sleep apnea remedy should include strategies that will help them cope with these problems. Education about sleep apnea prognosis to the patient, family, and employers is sometimes needed to help the patient return to an active normal life, and be effective with his or her sleep apnea treatments.

Nasal Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)

CPAP is the most common effective severe sleep apnea treatment. In this procedure, the patient wears a mask over the nose during sleep and pressure from an air compressor forces air through the nasal passages. The air pressure is adjusted so that it is just enough to hold the throat open when it relaxes during sleep. The pressure is constant and continuous. Nasal CPAP is an effective apnea sleep treatment because it prevents obstruction while in use but apneas return when CPAP is stopped.

Nocturnal Ventilation

Another one of the CPAP sleep apnea treatments involves nocturnal ventilation. Patients can be ventilated noninvasively during sleep with positive pressure ventilation through a CPAP to provide cyclic ventilation to the patient. This technique is now used in patients whose breathing is impaired to the point that their blood carbon dioxide level is elevated, as happens in patients with obesity-hypoventilation syndrome, certain neuromuscular diseases, and central apnea.

Sleep Apnea Drug Therapies

No medications are effective in the treatment for sleep apnea. However, some physicians believe that mild cases of sleep apnea respond to drugs that either stimulate breathing or suppress deep sleep.

Acetazolamide has been used in central sleep apnea treatments. Tricyclic antidepressants inhibit deep sleep (REM) and are useful only in patients who have apneas in the REM state.

Oxygen administration sometimes benefits patients without any side effects. However, the role of oxygen in curing sleep apnea is controversial and it is difficult to predict which patients will respond to oxygen therapy.

Sleep Apnea Dental Device

A sleep apnea dental appliance which repositions the lower jaw and the tongue is helpful to some patients with mild obstructive sleep apnea. Possible side effects include damage to teeth, soft tissues, and the jaw joint.

Sleep Apnea Surgery Options

Some patients with sleep apnea may require surgical treatment as a sleep apnea cure. Useful surgeries for sleep apnea include removal of adenoids and tonsils, nasal polyps or other growths, or other tissue in the airway, or correction of structural deformitites. Younger patients seem to benefit from surgery better than older patients.

Tracheostomy : Severe Surgery for Sleep Apnea

Tracheostomy is used only in patients with severe, life-threatening obstructive sleep apnea. In this sleep apnea alternative treatment, a small hole is made in the windpipe (trachea) below the Adam's apple. A tube is inserted into the opening. This tube stays closed during the waking hours and the person breathes normally. It is opened for sleep so that air flows directly into the lungs, bypassing any upper airway obstruction. Its major drawbacks are that it is a disfiguring procedure and the tracheostomy tube requires proper daily care to keep it clean.

Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP)

Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (okay..try saying that 3 times really fast...or even saying it once for that matter!...) or UPPP is a sleep apnea laser surgery procedure used to remove excess tissue at the back of the throat (tonsils, adenoids, uvula, and part of the soft palate). This technique probably helps only half of the patients who choose it.

Its negative effects include nasal speech and backflow (regurgitation) of liquids into the nose during swallowing in some cases. UPPP is not considered as universally effective as tracheostomy but does seem to be a cure for snoring. It does not appear to prevent mortality from cardiovascular complications of severe sleep apnea.

Other Surgical Procedures

Some patients whose sleep apnea is due to deformities of the lower jaw (mandible) benefit from reconstruction or surocal advancement of the madible.

One of the sleep apnea new treatments is gastric stapling to treat obesity. This is one sleep apnea solution that is sometimes recommended for sleep apnea patients who are morbidly obese.

Natural Remedies for Sleep Apnea

Not all treatment options for sleep apnea have to involve a doctor. You can try to treat sleep apnea with some of these home remedies for sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea Natural Cures

While there is no one magic natural cure for sleep apnea, some of these sleep apnea remedies may help:

  • Avoid anything that will worsen the disease
  • Don't sleep on your back--try to stay on your side. You can pin a sock with a golf ball to the back of your pajamas to help you remember while you're asleep
  • Avoid suppresses the activity of the upper airway muscles so that the airway is more likely to collapse
  • Avoid sleeping pills and sedative-hypnotic drugs...they suppress arousal mechanisms and pro-long apneas
  • Live in a low altitude area...moving to high altitudes may aggravate the condition because of low oxygen levels
  • Lose weight--obesity is linked to sleep apnea

I hope that you found one of these remedies for sleep apnea promising! Remember to contact your physician to talk about these possible sleep apnea cures and sleep apnea aids. Good luck in your quest for treatment of obstructive sleep apnea!

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Swanson, Jennifer. Sleep Disorders Sourcebook. Detroit, Michigan: Omnigraphics, Inc., 1999: 179-182.