ZocdocAnswersDo I need a CPAP machine if I have sleep apnea?

Question

Do I need a CPAP machine if I have sleep apnea?

My doctor said that I have sleep apnea and now I need to start using a CPAP machine. Any way to get around this? I really don't want to start sleeping with some machine. What are other ways that sleep apnea can be treated?

Answer

Obstructive sleep apnea is a very common and very dangerous condition if left untreated. Basically it is caused by an obstruction of the airway caused by a relaxation of the muscles that keep the throat open. This results in snoring and periods of time during sleep when breathing is stopped because of the blockage. When this occurs, the person with sleep apnea wakes up for a brief moment. This makes the quality of sleep low and results in a lot of daytime fatigue. It is also associated with high blood pressure and heart disease. The continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine helps keep the airway open and prevents the periods where breathing is stopped. CPAP is currently the best treatment we have for sleep apnea. Other options which are considered if you fail CPAP include surgery to remove the uvula, and in extreme cases tracheotomy. Neither of these are options you will want to consider unless you absolutely hate the CPAP. The other option you have is weight loss. Some people that are overweight and have sleep apnea can improve their sleep apnea by returning to a normal weight. If you aren't overweight, this is less likely to work. The best physician for you to see about this problem is a sleep medicine specialist. I suggest that you schedule an appointment to discuss this further.

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