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Sleep Apnea Medication

Feb 09, 2022
· 4 mins read

If you’ve gotten a sleep apnea diagnosis or know someone who has, you are understandably curious about the treatment method. There’s a good chance your doctor already recommended getting you on the CPAP machine, the most common form of therapy.

The idea of wearing a mask at night or sleeping while hooked to a machine isn’t particularly appealing. So, you could be curious whether there is a workaround. You are wondering if it is possible to deal with the disorder through sleep apnea medication- just some regular pills.

Unfortunately, no medication for sleep apnea has been invented yet to replace the effectiveness of CPAP therapy. There’s no one note miraculous cure for sleep apnea either. What we do have are certain medications that alleviates some of the symptoms. There are medications that reduce some of the disorders that could arise as a result of sleep apnea.

For Daytime Sleeping

man experiencing daytime sleepiness

One of the common symptoms of sleep apnea is feeling drowsy throughout the day as the disease doesn’t let you sleep peacefully at night. This is called daytime sleepiness .You end up perplexed and on the verge of sleep throughout the day as a result.

Drugs such as Provigil and Nuvigil act as stimulants, keeping you awake and energized longer than what your tired body would otherwise allow you to feel.

For Nasal Congestion

woman experieincing nasal congestion

Nasal decongestant exists, which helps keep the passages in your nasal airways congestion free. For this reason, it is wise to take these kinds of pills before you go to bed, as the congestion will likely begin while you are sleeping. These drugs are not something you should be using for a long time and on your own discretion. 

Talk with your doctor and let them choose the drug along with the period of time you should be using it.

For Depression

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRI are a category of antidepressants commonly prescribed to people dealing with depression. Some studies have concluded that these drugs help with sleep apnea too. It’s a theoretical conclusion as of now rather than solid evidence. As such, it is recommended you only go ahead with it if your doctor approves.

Basically, antidepressants deter your body from going to REM cycle of sleep. Breathing problems get worse during this stage, so holding off from going to deep sleep can be beneficial. At the same time, it’s crucial for most people to experience REM sleep for a fully functioning mind. It’s also suggested that SSRIs could be good for the upper airway.

For Weight Loss

Women exercising

Because of the extra layer of muscles, your upper airway and chest area may be doubled down on. This is thought to be one of the reasons why overweight persons seem to be more prone to sleep apnea. Being overweight can also worsen the issue.

There are weight loss drugs you could use that double as sleep apnea medication. However, again, it is imperative that your doctor decides the drug for you. Not to mention, it’s unknown the extent to which weight loss drugs can be helpful for sleep apnea. People also tend to fall victim to addiction while using these kinds of drugs, so you have to be careful.

For the most part, it is recommended you skip these short-cut methods of weight loss and stick to regular exercise.

For Breathing

Acetazolamide is a drug used for epilepsy and glaucoma. Recent studies show promise that it might be helpful for sleep apnea too. Apparently, the drug causes you to breathe deeper, so your oxygen intake is higher. Even your CPAP therapy might be stepped up due to this drug.

The primary reason the drug isn’t usually recommended is that it can have heavy side effects. It can cause problems for liver and kidney and slow down other medication you might be using. It’s simply not the kind of drug everyone can intake.

Be careful and don’t use it without a doctor's permission.

For Asthma

Lots of sleep apnea patients have asthma. As a result, whatever medication that has been suggested for asthma can also help alleviate your sleep apnea. After all, asthma itself can be a condition of sleep apnea.

Final Thoughts

Do not use any weight gain drug, Barbiturates, beta-blockers or opioids while you have sleep apnea and going through CPAP therapy. If you have some other medications that you have to regularly take, converse with your doctor if those are safe for patients with sleep apnea.

As for any of the drugs mentioned, do not take any of those without consulting your doctor. Even the most harmless drugs should only be taken after explicit medical approval from a health professional. The entire reason you are looking for sleep apnea medication is to improve your health. It would not do if you ended up worsening it because you took something that would cause allergic reactions instead.

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