Is sleep apnea a lifelong disease? Does it affect patients for most of their lives and require long term treatment?
Doctors Answers (5)
Yes, it is lifelong; requiring lifelong treatment.
In brief, sleep apnea is a chronic and likely a lifelong disease. It may get worse or better depending on other factors (weight, other medical conditions etc). There are number of treatments for various stages of this disease (oral devices, breathing machines, surgery among others). Treatments may vary based on the individual's disease state. First step is to make an accurate diagnosis and consult with a sleep specialist to discuss all treatment options.
This question needs to be directed to a sleep physician. I am a dentist who is treating diagnosed sleep apnea patients with the fabrication of oral appliances.
Instances of sleep apnea have been know to resolve with weight loss but sometimes weight loss is a difficult chore as poor sleep quality has been proven to increase calorie consumption (or the desire for) in people with sleep disorders. Add to that the lack of energy for exercise that a person with sleep apnea experiences and you can see how the problem can spiral out of control. Treatment of sleep apnea, even mild forms, is critical because left untreated, OSA typically becomes more severe rather than less severe over time. Long term treatment is common so patients should be regularly followed by a sleep medicine specialist that will assess their changing needs as their age and physical health change.
In most circumstances, Sleep Apnea is a life long disorder. One exceptions is weight loss if Obesity is a factor. The other considerations is the severity of the sleep apnea, age of the patient, weight as stated, and physical characteristics of the airway.