Will my sleep apnea go away?

This question was asked in Edwards, Colorado on 02/26/2013.
Does sleep apnea ever go away naturally? Or do you have to get sleep apnea treatment for it to stop? What about snoring?

Doctors Answers (5)

Jana P. Kaimal, MD, FCCP
Answered on: 4/5/2013 7

The answer to your question really depends on your individual case and what is causing your sleep apnea. In mild cases, you may be able to treat it by changing your behavior, such as losing weight, avoiding alcohol and sleeping pills, changing your sleep position to improve breathing, stopping smoking and avoiding sleeping on your back. If your apnea is a result of an obstructed airway, however, these solutions may not be enough. It is best to seek the advice of a qualified sleep specialist since the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders, like any other medical condition, is something that can only be provided on an individual level.

Daron Scherr, MD, DABSM
Answered on: 4/5/2013 1

Sleep apnea is a physical / structural problem. We treat OSA the way eyeglasses or LASIK surgery treats vision.

Take off the glasses and the OSA isn't treated. A surgeon or Board Certified Sleep Specialist can give you an opinion on the likelihood of surgery working for you.

As we age, our airway becomes floppier, kind of like the rest of us; therefore OSA becomes more prevalent and worsens.

Susan M. Welch
Answered on: 2/28/2013

It depends; there are different types of apnea. Obstructive apnea is an upper airway/throat closure issue that can resolve if it's mild, in some cases, by losing weight. Most central and mixed apneas are CNS or brainstem issues and are not easily resolved, although some research suggests can be improved by dealing with chronic, whole body inflammation. The goal of therapeutics when treating obstructive sleep apnea is advancing the mandible with oral appliance therapy or a tongue retention device, bringing the tongue base forward which helps open the posterior pharyngeal space, allowing air to pass with breathing. Apnea does not go away on it's own, neither does snoring without getting the soft tissue out of the posterior throat space. Snoring and mild apnea can be resolved and managed by changing sleep posture. Sleeping on your side and not your back is a common change. I hope I've answered your questions. Should you have others, please don't hesitate to ask.

Courtney Whitney, DO
Answered on: 2/27/2013

There is no cure for sleep apnea, only treatment. CPAP is the most effective form of treatment for sleep apnea. If you are overweight, weight loss can decrease the severity of sleep apnea but it does not always eliminate the problem. Sleep apnea and snoring usually get worse as we get older also.

Timothy J. Delcambre, DDS, MHA
Answered on: 2/27/2013

If you are overweight, loss of extra weight may help alleviate snoring and sleep apnea. UUUP surgery works less than 1/2 the time. CPAP and/or an oral appliance works most of the time.