We use our own and third party cookies to offer you our services, customize and analyze your browsing and show you advertising related to your preferences. By continuing to browse, we consider that you accept its use. You can change the settings and get more information in the
Besides weight loss and sleep hygiene measures, the therapeutic backbone for treating Sleep Apnoea/Hypopnoea Syndrome (SAHS) is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP).
The non-drug treatment of SAHS can be divided into three key pillars:
Hygienic/dietary and postural measures. These measures form the initial treatment for patients with mild to moderate SAHS and no significant symptoms. Additionally, the following general recommendations are given to all patients with sleep apnoea:
Get enough sleep (8 hours) and follow a regular timetable.
Abstain from alcohol (primarily in the evenings) and smoking.
Obese patients should lose weight.
Treatment of any nasal obstructions.
Regular physical exercise (this can reduce the number of events by more than 30%).
Suppression of central nervous system depressants (benzodiazepines, narcotics and barbiturates).
Patients with mild to moderate SAHS who predominantly sleep on their backs can avoid this position while asleep with the aid of a device that stops them from turning over.
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). In patients with moderate or severe SAHS, or those with mild, but very symptomatic, SAHS, besides the general measures, recommendations are for the first-choice treatment with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP).
A CPAP machine consists of a turbine that generates and drives an airflow through tubing that connects to a mask (nasal or nasal-buccal) fixed in place on the face with straps. The mask intentionally leaks some gas to avoid reinhalation. Thanks to the balance between the flow and rate of leakage from the mask, the system transfers pressurised air to the UAW which acts like a pneumatic wedge and stops the pharynx from collapsing while asleep, thus preventing apnoea and normalising the structure of sleep. Each patient requires a certain CPAP pressure, so the correct amount should be determined individually through a nighttime sleep study. There are various systems available to help set the correct CPAP level. CPAP is a safe, bloodless and reversible device. There are no absolute contraindications for the use of CPAP.
Intraoral devices. In select cases, patients with mild or moderate SAHS may benefit from mandibular advancement devices (MADs).
These comprise splints that ease the jaw forwards and therefore increase the retropharyngeal space and prevent the jaw and tongue from falling backwards. MADs are particularly indicated in non-obese patients (BMI < 30) with predominantly positional apnoea (lying on back) and with mild/moderate apnoea.
There are currently no drugs available with proven efficacy in the treatment of SAHS.
Patients often experience mild side effects for the first few weeks while using CPAP. They are generally very mild, temporary and respond well to local measures, so patients should be monitored closely over the first few months. It is particularly important that individuals receive adequate training and education before starting to use CPAP.
Sorry this content wasn't helpful to you. Send us your comment and we will take it into account to continue improving.
Thanks for your help!
An error has occurred and we were unable to send your opinion, please try again later.
Substantiated information by:
Josep M. Montserrat CanalPulmonologist
M Concepción Ruiz SánchezAdvanced Practice Nurse
Published: 16 January 2020
Updated: 16 January 2020
The donations that can be done through this webpage are exclusively for the benefit of Hospital Clínic of Barcelona through Fundació Clínic per a la Recerca Biomèdica and not for BBVA Foundation, entity that collaborates with the project of PortalClínic.
Receive the latest updates related to this content.
Thank you for subscribing!
If this is the first time you subscribe you will receive a confirmation email, check your inbox
An error occurred and we were unable to send your data, please try again later.
Subscribe to the Newsletter of Clínic
Receive the latest news from our institution directly to your email.
Thanks for your subscription!
We have received your information. Check your inbox, in a few moments you will receive a confirmation email.
An error has occurred and we have not been able to send your data, please try again later.
More about assistance and health
Join our job pool
Hospital Clínic de Barcelona looks for talented professionals to cover job openings on a regular basis.