Sleep Apnea

The most common sleep disorder is called sleep apnea, a condition involving partial or complete collapse of the airway during sleep. Patients with sleep apnea are often completely unaware that they struggle to breathe all night long. Several options for treating obstructive sleep apnea syndrome are offered by the Sleep Center. As a first step in determining whether you have apnea, we ask that you download and fill out the apnea questionnaire.
sleep apnea at boston area hospital

Sleep Apnea Treatments


Sleep-position training

Sleep-position training can be used to help improve your symptoms. There are several options for sleep-position training, including use of a tennis ball or foam wedge to prevent you from rolling onto your back during sleep.

Weight loss and regular exercise

For people who are overweight and suffer from OSAS, weight loss alone may be the most helpful treatment. However, once you reach your desired weight, it is important to maintain that weight because snoring and apneas are likely to return with weight gain. Consult a healthcare professional to find out about safe and effective weight loss programs.

Avoiding alcohol and sedatives

Even one glass of wine just before bed can make snoring and apnea worse. Avoid drinking alcohol for at least four hours before bed. Alcohol and sedatives (such as sleeping pills, muscle relaxants, anti-anxiety drugs, and some pain medications) can cause the muscles in your throat to relax more than usual and cause an airway obstruction. Alcohol and sedatives also make it more difficult for the brain to "wake up" and notice a lack of oxygen in the system, which results in longer and more dangerous abnormal breathing periods. Talk with your doctor about modifying your medication or alcohol consumption to more appropriate levels.

Positive Airway Pressure Devices (PAP) for the Treatment of Sleep Apnea

If you have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you upper airway collapses again and again as you sleep. Positive airway pressure (PAP) devices give you just the right amount of pressurized air through a small nasal mask to prevent collapse. Properly set and used whenever you sleep, PAP machines can eliminate your sleep apnea and snoring so that you get a good night's sleep.

Surgery

An operation may be an option if your healthcare professional finds a cause for obstruction in your airway or if more conservative treatments have not worked. Whatever type of operation is recommended, be aware of the expected success rates as well as all possible risks and side effects.

Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider before starting any new treatment. Nothing contained in this information is intended to be for medical diagnosis or treatment.