Sleep Apnea

People with sleep apnea stop breathing for short periods of time while they are asleep. You generally don't wake up fully when this happens, but in the morning you don't feel rested, and you feel sleepy during the day. Sleep apnea can be caused by a blocked upper airway (called obstructive apnea), by your brain not signaling your lungs to breathe (central apnea), or by a combination of these two problems.

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of sleep apnea include the following.

What Causes It?

Apnea is caused by many physical conditions (such as obesity, or large tonsils and adenoids). The typical person with sleep apnea is an overweight, middle-aged man who has allergies, but apnea can occur at any age and in women as well as men. Sometimes drugs such as alcohol, sleeping pills, or heart medications can trigger apnea. It can also be inherited.

What to Expect at Your Provider's Office

People who have sleep apnea often seek medical help because they feel tired all the time or because their partner complains of loud snoring. Your health care provider will check your weight and blood pressure and ask about allergies. He or she may send you home with a device to check your oxygen levels while you sleep. Your provider may also refer you to a sleep clinic for overnight testing.

Treatment Options

Making the following lifestyle changes can help obstructive apnea.

Drug Therapies

Some of the drugs used to treat central apnea include: Medications used to treat obstructive apnea include:

Complementary and Alternative Therapies

Alternative therapies may be useful in treating sleep apnea caused by allergies. Homeopathy and nutrition are most likely to have a positive effect. While many supplements are touted as good for weight loss, none have proved to be as effective as eating less and exercising more.

Nutrition Homeopathy
There have been few studies examining the effectiveness of specific homeopathic remedies. Professional homeopaths, however, may recommend one or more of the following treatments for sleep apnea based on their knowledge and clinical experience. Before prescribing a remedy, homeopaths take into account a person's constitutional type. In homeopathic terms, a person's constitution is his or her physical, emotional, and intellectual makeup. An experienced homeopath assesses all of these factors when determining the most appropriate remedy for a particular individual. Acupuncture
May be helpful in treating sleep apnea.

Following Up

Sleep apnea is a serious condition that can cause fatal heart problems, so it's crucial to stick with your treatment plan. If you are using a mask and ventilator equipment, be sure to take care of them. Keep in contact with your health care provider or sleep clinic to make sure your treatment is working.

Special Considerations

If you are pregnant, you may have nasal congestion that makes you snore in a way that people with apnea do, but this is not apnea. If you have apnea and become pregnant, be sure to continue your treatment so that your condition will not affect your baby.


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