Sleep apnea is a condition that causes a person to stop breathing repeatedly during sleep. If you have sleep apnea, there are several factors that can make your condition worse, including obesity, alcohol consumption, smoking, sleeping on your back and nasal congestion. But did you know that the medication you are taking could also be contributing to the severity or frequency of your sleep apnea episodes? At North Virginia Sleep Solutions, we are keenly aware of the factors, habits and medications that can influence your sleep apnea condition. Not only do we recognize sleep apnea causes, but we can also treat them for a better night’s sleep.

Types of Medications That Impact Sleep Apnea

Yes, certain medications can worsen sleep apnea symptoms or even contribute to the development of sleep apnea in some cases. Here are some examples of medications that can make sleep apnea worse:


Drugs such as benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and opioids can cause relaxation of the muscles in the throat, which can lead to an increase in sleep apnea symptoms.

Muscle Relaxants

Medications used to treat muscle spasms can also relax the muscles in the throat, making sleep apnea worse.


Certain types of antidepressants, such as tricyclic antidepressants, can cause weight gain and relaxation of the throat muscles, which can increase the risk of sleep apnea.

Hypertension Medications

Some drugs used to treat high blood pressure, such as beta-blockers, can worsen sleep apnea symptoms by relaxing the muscles in the throat.

OTC Allergy Medications

Antihistamines can worsen untreated sleep apnea or increase the chance of developing sleep apnea in those already at risk. These include over-the-counter brand names such as Allegra, Benadryl, Claritin, and Zyrtec.

If you have sleep apnea, it’s important to discuss any medications you are taking with your doctor and sleep apnea dentist. You may need an alternative medication or dosage adjustment to minimize your risk of worsening sleep apnea episodes.

A Sleep Dentist Can Help

At North Virginia Sleep Solutions, we can help you get a better night’s sleep. Our experts realize that certain medications (prescriptions or over-the-counter) are necessary to keep you healthy. However, it doesn’t have to come at the risk of bad sleep habits. Call our Alexandria office today to learn more about our CPAP alternative treatments for sleep apnea. We have innovative solutions that fit your budget and lifestyle.

Posted on behalf of Northern Virginia Sleep Solutions

1725 Duke St, Suite GR03
Alexandria, VA 22314

Phone: (571) 290-7977

Monday, Friday 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Tuesday - Thursday 7:00 AM – 5:00 PM