Sleep apnea is treated using lifestyle changes and breathing devices such as the continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, device; these treatments are not considered cures. A CPAP machine works by gently blowing air into the throat of the sleep apnea sufferer via a mask that fits over the mouth and nose, according to the National Institutes of Health's National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, or NHLBI. In more severe cases of sleep apnea, surgery to correct the problem may be recommended.
For some people, treatments needed to manage the condition are lifestyle changes like losing weight, stopping smoking, sleeping on the side instead of the back as well as avoiding medicines and alcohol that cause drowsiness and make it more difficult for the throat to stay open during sleep. The use of allergy medicines and nasal sprays that keep the nasal passages more freely open during sleep are sometimes recommended for those with mild sleep apnea, according to the NHLBI.
In more severe sleep apnea cases, surgery may be necessary. Generally, surgery involves widening the breathing passages, shrinking removing or stiffening the excess tissue in the throat or mouth or even resetting the lower jaw to better facilitate breathing during sleep, according to the NHLBI.