There are a variety of conservative treatment measures that can reduce the severity of Obstructive Sleep Apnea. In many patients with mild sleep-disordered breathing, conservative treatments may be successful at resolving the problem altogether.
Our Centre has a Dietician dedicated to helping patients to improve their condition using such conservative treatments.
You can book an appointment with our Dietician by contacting us on 02 9252 6144.
Weight loss is important for many patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnea. In many cases, weight loss will reduce the severity of Obstructive Sleep apnoea. This might improve the condition to a level where other treatments are not necessary or make the other treatments easier to use (e.g lower CPAP pressures may be required following weight loss). Weight loss often means that a greater range of treatment options can be considered for a patient, e.g oral appliances, CPAP therapy, ENT management, and positional therapy.
Studies have shown that 10% weight loss has very broad medical effects: in addition to reducing obstructive sleep severity by 25-45%, there is a reduction in lipids, diabetes risk, blood pressure and overall mortality.
The Sleep Centre Dietician will review your whole medical history as part of her management plan. In addition to strategies to specifically help you lose weight, she will tailor dietary advice to your other health conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, to ensure your dietary changes improve all your health conditions.
Positional therapy Sleep Apnea and snoring are almost always worse when a patient is sleeping on their back (or particularly, with the head in this position). This is because the back of the tongue and muscles of the pharynx block the airway more easily in this position. Our muscles relax during sleep and in the supine head-position, the tongue then sags backwards under the influence of gravity. Sleeping with the head on the side, and by learning to sleep exclusively on the side, many patients with Sleep Apnea can significantly improve their condition.
Improved sleep habits It is important for patients with Sleep Apnea and its associated disrupted sleep to:
Alcohol is a sedative that promotes muscle relaxation, including relaxation of the pharyngeal muscles during sleep. This results in snoring and Sleep Apnea becoming worse. Reducing regular alcohol consumption can reduce the severity of snoring and Sleep Apnea.
Cessation of tobacco smoking In addition to causing cancer and being a major health risk, tobacco smoke causes the walls of airways to retain fluid and swell (this is called oedema). This causes the airway space to become narrow, making your Sleep Apnea worse. Nicotine also contributes to insomnia and poor sleep-habits.
Measures to improve nasal airflow may be beneficial in patients prone to nasal allergies or troublesome nasal congestion at night-time. These measures may involve the regular use of nasal sprays (FESS, intra-nasal steroids), other medications such as antihistamines, or other interventions recommended by a Sleep Physician, ENT specialist, Allergist or the patient’s General Practitioner.