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Are There Any Natural Remedies for Sleep Apnea?

By Manjari Bansal
Lifestyle changes that do not involve medical intervention can address some mild sleep apnea symptoms. Find out more about these remedies and other options that can help.

Treatment options for sleep apnea will vary according to the severity of your symptoms. If you have mild symptoms, you may get relief from natural remedies like losing weight or changing your sleep position. In cases of moderate to severe sleep apnea, you may need advanced treatment. Learn more about natural remedies for sleep apnea and other treatment options available.   

Home Remedies for Sleep Apnea: Do They Exist?

Cleveland Clinic notes that, if you have mild obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes that do not involve medical equipment or procedures to help you get relief from symptoms. These lifestyle adjustments may include:

Losing weight: Overweight people usually have a thick neck with fat deposits in their throats. “Neck fat can block the upper airway causing snoring and airway blockage,” Alan Thomalla, PhD, a licensed psychologist at ABC Resources, tells WebMD Connect to Care.  

If you are overweight, losing some weight may help improve symptoms, but it may not eliminate sleep apnea, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine notes.

Avoiding alcohol: Reducing alcohol intake may improve sleep apnea symptoms. “Alcohol can interrupt a person’s sleep cycles. It is a depressant, so it slows respiration and induces shallow breathing, decreasing blood oxygen levels and preventing the expulsion of carbon dioxide. Because alcohol is a depressant, it can also over-relax the muscles in the throat. This can narrow or collapse the airway, which exacerbates this problem,” Thomalla explains.

Changing sleeping position: Some patients experience OSA symptoms only when they sleep on their back, according to Cleveland Clinic. In such cases, sleeping in a side position with the help of a wedge pillow or a device may relieve symptoms to a great extent. “Repositioning takes the pressure off the individual’s chest and diaphragm, allowing the airway to remain open,” Thomalla explains.

Treating nasal congestion: If you have nasal congestion or sinus issues, using a nasal spray or breathing strips may help reduce snoring and improve breathing during sleep, according to Cleveland Clinic.

Although lifestyle changes are commonly recommended to address certain symptoms of OSA, these modifications may not always give you complete relief. Therefore, your doctor may suggest other treatment options as well.   

Proven Treatments for Sleep Apnea

According to Mayo Clinic, if you have moderate-to-severe sleep apnea, your doctor may recommend one of the following treatment options:

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) Therapy: The American Sleep Association reports that this is the most effective treatment for moderate-to-severe OSA symptoms. It consists of a CPAP machine connected to a tube and a mask you wear while sleeping. The machine continuously pushes air through the mask, which helps keep the airway open during sleep.  

Other airway pressure devices: If your symptoms are not entirely relieved with CPAP, you may try other types of airway pressure devices like a BiPAP or an Auto-CPAP machine, states Mayo Clinic. A BiPAP machine produces two different air pressures during inhalation and exhalation, while an Auto-CPAP machine automatically adjusts air pressure according to your requirements during sleep.  

Oral appliances: These are custom-fit oral devices that you wear while sleeping, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. They prevent the airway from collapsing by holding the tongue and your lower jaw in a position that's more optimal for airflow. Oral appliances are usually recommended for those who experience discomfort with CPAP therapy.

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Untreated sleep disorders can negatively affect your physical and emotional health. Sleep testing can help you get the answers you need to receive the treatment you deserve. WebMD Connect to Care Advisors are standing by to help.