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Speech Therapy Exercises Relieve Sleep Apnea

Last Updated: May 15, 2009.

The specialized exercises used in speech therapy can be adapted and used to reduce the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, according to a study in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

FRIDAY, May 15 (HealthDay News) -- The specialized exercises used in speech therapy can be adapted and used to reduce the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS), according to a study in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Katia C. Guimaraes, of the University of Sao Paulo Medical School in Brazil, and colleagues examined the role for exercise of upper airway muscles in treating OSAS. Thirty-one patients with moderate OSAS were randomized to receive either sham therapy or oropharyngeal exercises derived from speech therapy practices. Baseline and outcome measurements included snoring frequency, Epworth daytime sleepiness and Pittsburgh sleep quality questionnaires, and polysomnography.

While no significant improvement occurred in the group receiving sham therapy, the patients who performed oropharyngeal exercises had decreased snoring frequency, snoring intensity, neck circumference and daytime sleepiness, along with improved sleep quality and apnea-hypopnea index scores.

"In conclusion, in patients with moderate OSAS, oropharyngeal exercises improved objective measurements of OSAS severity and subjective measurements of snoring, daytime sleepiness, and sleep quality. Our results suggest that this set of oropharyngeal exercises is a promising alternative for the treatment of moderate OSAS," the authors write.

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