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How can I avoid having obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS)?

Treatment is the best solution to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). But you can -- and should -- take action to reduce several factors that make OSA symptoms worse:
  • Avoid or limit alcohol (especially at bedtime) -- and don't smoke! Both these habits make it harder for your throat to stay open while you sleep.
  • Avoid medication that makes you sleepy. If you are at risk for OSA, it can be dangerous to take pain medications, sleeping pills, or any medication that has a drowsiness warning on the label. These medications make your throat muscles relax so they are likely to tighten or close your airway. Talk to your doctor before taking any of these medications.
  • Sleep on your side instead of your back and raise the head of your bed. These actions can help keep your airway open and reduce snoring. Ask your doctor about available sleep aids. One trick to try is pinning a sock containing a tennis ball to the back of your pajamas or nightgown, so the ball is between your shoulder blades. If you turn onto your back, the ball prompts you to turn back onto your side, usually without waking you.
  • Keep your nasal passages open. If you have sinus problems or nasal congestion, use nasal spray or breathing strips to keep your nose open. Ask your doctor before taking antihistamines or decongestants -- these are not meant for long-term use.
  • Lose weight, if you need to, to improve your body mass index (BMI). A high BMI (especially if over 35) is a major risk factor for OSA.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.