What are the best treatments for sleep apnea?

This question was asked in Kissimmee, Florida on 01/07/2013.
I have been told repeatedly that I have sleep apnea by significant others who have heard me stop breathing during my sleep. I am a male in my thirties and am not overweight. What are the best treatments for sleep apnea for someone like me? I know that CPAP is very common but I want to know my other options.

Doctors Answers (7)

J. Douglas Hudson, MD, DABSM
Answered on: 1/11/2013

The "best" treatment for sleep apnea is usually CPAP therapy. There are cases, however, which can be treated with positional therapy such as avoiding sleeping on your back. Prior to the invention of the CPAP machine patients with severe sleep apnea would undergo a tracheotomy. This bypassed all the pathology. It was plugged closed during the daytime and opened at night. Later, surgery to reduce the size of the tongue and removed excess tissue such as the soft palate and tonsils became popular. This surgery is not done as much anymore as it often does not work. Other treatments such as the Provent Nasal device have been introduced to help reduce the severity of apnea an snoring. Devices which keep the tongue pulled forward have been introduced but are not often effective. Dental devices which keep the lower jaw pushed forward are popular and can help some patients. These are referred to as mandibular advancement devices. A side effect of their use can be temporomandibular disorder.

SomnoDiagnostics, Inc.
Answered on: 1/8/2013 1

Thank you for your question. The first step is to have a consultation with Dr. Gibson to discuss your symptoms and he will evaluate your upper airway. If indicated, ideally you would have a sleep study to determine and document the severity of your sleep apnea. Without an examination of your upper airway we can't commit to you if you are a candidate for surgery or a mouth piece. A person does not have to be overweight to have sleep apnea, however it is a risk factor. There are many thin people with sleep apnea. Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

Courtney Whitney, DO
Answered on: 1/8/2013 1

CPAP is deemed by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) as the most effective form of treatment for sleep apnea. For those who do not tolerate CPAP, an oral appliance could be a very effective form of treatment and is also considered so by the AASM for mild cases. Oral appliances are custom made mouth guards with some extra hardware that pull the jaw forward to keep the soft tissue of the airway from closing against itself. A dentist who specializes in the fabrication of oral appliances would evaluate your oral structure to determine if you are good candidate for an oral appliance. Other great treatment options are just starting to emerge and we are waiting to see the effectiveness for treatment of obstructive sleep apnea. Thank you!

Robert C. Jones, M.D.
Answered on: 1/8/2013 1

The answer to your question really depends on the results of you polysomnography (sleep study). CPAP is the best treatment option for moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea but an oral appliance or corrective surgery of upper airway abnormality identified by an ENT can also be considered for mild to moderate cases. Once you have had your sleep study, you and the sleep physician can discuss the best course of treatment.

Jeannine Louise Gingras, MD
Answered on: 1/8/2013 1

Treatment of sleep apnea depends on the severity that can only be determined by a sleep study. I suggest you find a sleep specialist in your area for evaluation. Options other than Cpap include a dental device.

Joseph Lee, DDS, FICOI
Answered on: 1/8/2013 1

If you're not overweight, then its possible your type of sleep apnea is structural, where your tongue blocks your airway simply because your lower jaw never came down and forward the way it should have. If that is the case, an oral appliance that holds your jaw forward and down would open your airway and allow you a better sleep. A CPAP would be more intrusive and not easy to take around.

Faryl K. Hart, DDS
Answered on: 1/8/2013 1

The first step is having a diagnosis from a Doctor of Sleep apnea. CPAP is one treatment of Sleep Apnea, but oral appliance therapy is another less evasive option. Our Dentist offers a complementary inital appointment to discuss signs and symptoms of Sleep Apnea. She also shows our patients the oral appliance we recommend, and discuss the benefits of the device. If the patient is ready to proceed, an impression will be taken during the appointment. In about 3-4 weeks the appliance will come back from the lab. *I would listen to the people who are concerned about your health. Talk to your primary care physician and/or sleep physician today.