Sleep Apnea Treatments

Sleep apnea is a type of sleep disorder that is characterized by pauses in breathing while at sleep. People suffering from this sleep disorder are often observed to grasp for breath through snoring. Pauses in breathing can lasts from 10 seconds to a few minutes and can happen at least five to 30 times in an hour. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the result of obstructions in the airways. Obstructions may either be caused when the upper airway gets blocked at night or when it collapses. People suffering from sleep apnea feel tired the next day and experience excessive sleepiness. Lack of oxygen supply can damage the brain and cardiovascular system. Moreover, it can cause other serious health complications such as stroke, high blood pressure, and even premature death.

The most common treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). CPAP is a machine that forces the airways to remain open through the use of positive pressure. The patient wears a plastic mask, which has a tube connecting to the CPAP machine. CPAP is an effective treatment for sleep apnea; however, many patients find CPAP machines to be very uncomfortable.

The automatic positive airway pressure or APAP is similar to CPAP. It also works by forcing positive air pressure into the throat, but the pressure automatically adjusts depending on the person’s needs.

Mandibular advancement systems (MAS) are specialized mouthpieces that are worn to move the jaw forward while at sleep. Moving the jaw forward opens up the airways and regulates breathings. Several studies have already proven the efficiency of MAS in helping treat individuals suffering from obstructive sleep apnea.

Oral pressure therapy is another alternative treatment used for obstructive sleep apnea. This device uses negative pressure to open up the airways. The negative pressure sucks tissues found at the back of the throat forward, causing the air passages to open up. This sleep apnea device is approved to be safe by the US’ Food and Drug Administration. It was also recognized and awarded for the 2012 Wall Street Journal Technology Awards.

Expiratory pressure resistance valves are used to open up the nostrils. Breathings are normalized through the valves which forces the airways to open up. These devices are disposable and are not yet approved to be safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration.

Surgery may be done to correct obstructive sleep apnea. Surgical procedures are only done when no other known treatment has been successful. Surgery is usually done to correct and open up nasal and oropharynx passages. Surgical procedures that can help patients with obstructive sleep apnea include: turbinate and septoplasty surgery, uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), tonsillectomy, pillar procedure, and many more.

Aside from using oral devices and surgery, lifestyle changes can also improve sleep apnea. Sleeping on one’s side can help open up the airways rather than sleeping on the back. Avoiding alcohol intake and specific medications that can cause the throat muscles to relax and collapse is also effective. Lastly, losing weight is effective in eliminating extra tissues that block the air passages and cause sleep apnea.

Read more on to learn all about your options for treating sleep apnea.