How to treat sleep apnea: which doctor treats sleep apnea

A constant feeling of weakness, inability to concentrate, daytime sleepiness … These are not always symptoms of the now fashionable chronic fatigue syndrome. Sleep apnea is the cause in about 10% of cases. Complex treatment in this case is able to provide sufficient supply of oxygen to the body during sleep, which means to return the feeling of cheerfulness and freshness in the morning.

Reasons to see a doctor

Sleep apnea is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • nightly snoring;
  • frequent changes in position during sleep;
  • falling asleep during the day at any opportunity;
  • urge to urinate more than once a night;
  • high blood pressure;
  • sweating during sleep;
  • tingling, tingling in the legs on waking.

The presence of several symptoms from this list is a reason to consult a doctor for further examination and diagnosis.

Postponing a trip to a medical facility is undesirable. The fact is that sleep apnea attacks become more frequent over time, and poor oxygen supply can lead to depression, headaches, coronary heart disease, heart attack, and even death.

To check if you are having pauses in breathing, ask someone close to watch you sleep for a few hours. With apnea, snoring is interrupted for 10–30 seconds, at which time the patient wakes up or is half asleep, tries to inhale, and then draws air into the lungs with a wheezing. In severe cases, breathing is interrupted for a minute or more, there are more than 30 stops per night.

Doctor’s Choice

The best way to get a good diagnosis and learn how to treat sleep apnea is to contact a sleep center, the so-called sleep laboratory. Currently, centers or separate offices are open in more than 30 cities of Russia.

To make a diagnosis, polysomnography is performed – an examination that allows you to record a number of parameters during sleep: breathing, oxygen supply, movement of the chest, brain activity. The recording of all data lasts overnight. Based on the results of the examination, one can not only say with certainty whether sleep apnea occurs, but also determine exactly what type it belongs to, and therefore, choose the right treatment.

If sleep clinics are difficult to access and the disease is mild, you can contact a general practitioner and an otolaryngologist. Often, relief of the condition can be achieved if you adhere to a healthy lifestyle and undergo treatment with Laura.

Sleep apnea treatment

There are 3 types of apnea:

  • Obstructive, when the cause of interruption of breathing is the cessation of oxygen supply to the lungs due to blockage of the airways. Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) is quite common, affecting almost 10% of adult men and 5% of women. Only 2 cases out of 10 are diagnosed and treated.
  • Central apnea occurs due to malfunctions in the respiratory center. There is a suspension of the supply of signals during falling asleep and the transition to the unconscious regulation of breathing. In its pure form, central apnea is very rare.
  • Mixed sleep apnea is a combination of the first two types, it ranks second in prevalence after OSAS.

Treatment depends on the type of apnea and is aimed at getting rid of the causes leading to breath holding:

  • transition to a healthy lifestyle,
  • surgery,
  • apparatus therapy,
  • sleep apnea treatment with medical methods.

healthy lifestyle against apnea

The main enemy of free, clean breathing is excess weight. Every second person with obesity is a potential patient of a somnologist. In people with a body mass index greater than 35 and a neck circumference greater than 40 cm, fat accumulation makes it difficult for air to pass to the lungs. A visible therapeutic effect or even complete elimination of sleep apnea is observed with a loss of only 10-15% of the weight.

Energy and alcoholic drinks lead to relaxation of the muscles of the pharynx and difficulty breathing. If you drink alcohol, calculate its amount, the norm is 15 ml of pure alcohol, multiplied by the number of hours before sleep. Sleeping pills and tranquilizers, especially older ones, can also cause a sticky throat. If you are forced to take them, discuss with your doctor which drugs have the least side effects.

To minimize sleep apnea, the right conditions in the bedroom should be ensured before treatment with surgical and medical methods:

  • Airing the room before going to bed.
  • Use of humidifiers if the humidity is less than 45%.
  • The right pillow is not too low, which causes the head to roll back, and not too high, which forces the neck to arch excessively. It is best to choose a pillow with an anatomical curve.
  • It is better to raise the head of the bed with apnea by 10–15 cm, placing the legs on a raised platform. This technique reduces swelling of the pharynx and improves oxygen supply. In severe cases of sleep apnea, it may be more comfortable to sleep in a semi-sitting position.

Attacks of suffocation are less common when sleeping on the side. To accustom to this position, there are special devices, which are a belt or a backpack with a ledge at the back. When you turn over on your back, this ledge interferes with sleep and forces you to return to your side.

A similar device can be made independently by attaching any solid object to a tape or clothing. You can learn to sleep on your side in this way quite quickly – within 3 weeks.


Treatment of sleep apnea with surgical methods is used for a deviated nasal septum, overgrown adenoids and tonsils.

Operations on the soft palate and removal of the uvula are also common. The so-called flabby palate is damaged with a scalpel, laser or radio waves. Healing and recovering , the sky becomes denser and tightens. Despite the fact that doctors give a guarantee to get rid of snoring with the help of surgical treatment, sleep apnea is a contraindication for such methods. Operations on the palate are allowed only if the ENT confirms the hypertrophy of the soft palate and uvula.

Hardware therapy

Special equipment is capable of providing a constant supply of oxygen to the lungs with OSAS. It is a compressor that provides increased air pressure and is guaranteed to eliminate asthma attacks.

The air is supplied to the mask warm, purified and humidified. The devices used for the treatment of sleep apnea are available in two types:

  • CPAPs provide constant pressure in the mask.
  • BPAP has 2 pressure levels, different for inhalation and exhalation.

The device, pressure settings, masks are selected individually by the attending physician using devices that control breathing.

In severe apnea, it is recommended to sleep with a CPAP machine always, in a moderate form, 5 times a week is enough. All symptoms associated with respiratory arrest are significantly reduced the next day, and disappear completely after a week.

Sleeping in a sleep apnea machine will be for life, with one exception. The fact is that it is very difficult for people suffering from severe sleep apnea to lose weight. This is due to the fact that when sleep is disturbed, the production of growth hormones is significantly reduced, while fat deposits are not included in metabolic processes even with a lack of calories.

The constant use of the CPAP machine in combination with a balanced diet and exercise can give results in the form of weight loss, alleviation of the severity or complete disappearance of apnea.

Medical methods

For the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea, drugs are used, the action of which is aimed at eliminating the causes that make breathing difficult. These reasons also determine which doctor will prescribe treatment. So, with nasal congestion associated with an allergic reaction of the body, the allergist will prescribe antihistamines, with age-related changes in the throat, you will have to visit an endocrinologist and then take hormonal drugs.

To smooth out the negative impact on the body of a lack of air, drugs are prescribed that improve the saturation of hemoglobin with oxygen – almitrin , protriptyline .

The treatment of sleep apnea of the central type is based on drugs that stimulate the respiratory center and help maintain the level of oxygen in the blood. These are acetazolamide and long-acting theophylline preparations. Also, the simplest sedatives taken before bedtime, such as Persen or Novo- Passit , can give an effect .

Even if periodic pauses in breathing do not interfere with normal life, the lack of oxygen during sleep has a detrimental effect on the entire body. When the problem of sleep apnea is eliminated, the probability of death from cardiovascular diseases is reduced by 10 times. The currently used methods of treating apnea can, if not completely eliminate apnea, then at least significantly reduce its intensity.

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