Issue Navigator

Volume 15 No. 07
Earn CME
Accepted Papers

Scientific Investigations

Effects of Medical Therapy on Mild Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Adult Patients

David F. Smith, MD, PhD1,2,3; Kathleen M. Sarber, MD1,2; Charlene P. Spiceland, PhD4; Stacey L. Ishman, MD, MPH1,2,3; Dianne M. Augelli, MD5; Ann M. Romaker, MD6
1Division of Pediatric Otolaryngology, Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio; 2Division of Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio; 3Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, Ohio; 4College School of Business, Simmons University, Boston, Massachusetts; 5Weill Medical College, Cornell University, New York, New York; 6Department of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, Ohio

Study Objectives:

Patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have been shown to have high levels of inflammatory markers. Anti-inflammatory treatment with montelukast and intranasal steroids have demonstrated efficacy for mild OSA in children; this has not been fully evaluated in adults. This study investigated the response of mild OSA in adults to anti-inflammatory medical therapy.


Adults aged ≥ 21 years with an apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) ≤ 15 events/h on polysomnography (PSG) were recruited to a prospective double-blind, randomized control trial. Patients were treated for 12 weeks with montelukast and fluticasone or placebo. All underwent a pretreatment and posttreatment PSG. Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS) score was obtained pretreatment and at 6 and 12 weeks posttreatment.


A total of 26 patients completed the study with 13 in each group. Mean age in the treatment and placebo groups were 58.3 ± 10.3 and 54.8 ± 14 years, respectively. There was no significant difference between groups reporting nasal congestion (P = .186), rhinitis (P = .666), or snoring (P = .177). There was no difference in the pretreatment ESS score (P = .077), body mass index (P = .173), or AHI (P = .535). The posttreatment PSG in the treatment group demonstrated a significant increase in total sleep time (P = .02) and percent of stage R sleep (P = .05). Neither group showed significant change in AHI. In patients in the treatment group, the 6- and 12-week follow-up ESS scores were not significantly different from pretreatment scores (P = .37–.46).


Intranasal steroids and montelukast did not decrease AHI; however, total sleep time and percent of stage R sleep significantly increased. Self-reported improvement could be explained by observed changes in sleep parameters. Larger prospective studies could help elucidate the effects of medical therapy on adult patients with OSA.

Clinical Trial Registration:

Registry:; Title: Montelukast and Nasa ICS for Treatment of Mild Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Adults; Identifier: NCT01089647; URL:


Smith DF, Sarber KM, Spiceland CP, Ishman SL, Augelli DM, Romaker AM. Effects of medical therapy on mild obstructive sleep apnea in adult patients. J Clin Sleep Med. 2019;15(7):979–983.

Please login to continue reading the full article

Subscribers to JCSM get full access to current and past issues of the JCSM.

Login to JCSM

Not a subscriber?

Join the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and receive a subscription to JCSM with your membership

Subscribe to JCSM:  $125/volume year for individuals or $225/volume year for institutions to access all current articles and archives published in JCSM.

Download this article*:   $20 to access a PDF version of a specific article from the current issue of JCSM.

*Purchase of an article provides permission to access and print the article for personal scholarly, research and educational use. Please note: access to the article is from the computer on which the article is purchased ONLY. Purchase of the article does not permit distribution, electronic or otherwise, of the article without the written permission of the AASM. Further, purchase does not permit the posting of article text on an online forum or website.