Treatments Option for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Several treatment option for obstructive sleep apnea are available including surgery.

Updated: January 24, 2018

Several treatment option for  obstructive sleep apnea  are available including surgery. If your apnea is moderate to severe, a number of treatments are available. Certain devices can help open up a blocked airway.

Treatments for obstructive sleep apnea :

Treatment options may include:

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP):

CPAP is the most common and reliable method of treating sleep apnea you have moderate to severe sleep apnea. In this type of treatment a mask is worn over the nose and/or mouth which is hooked up to a machine that delivers a continuous flow of air into the nose while you sleep. The air pressure is somewhat greater than that of the surrounding air, and is just enough to keep your upper airway passages open, preventing apnea and snoring. Some people find it uncomfortable to wear a mask while sleeping. But with little practice, most people learn to adjust the tension of the straps to get a comfortable and secure fit. You may need to try more than one type of mask to find a suitable one for you with which you may feel comfortable. A humidifier along with your CPAP systems can also be used to get the benifit. Check with your doctor before stopping the CPAP machine if you experience problems to see what modifications can be made to make you more comfortable.
If you are still snoring despite treatment or begin to snore again after a period of treatment, you need to consult your doctor. There is a possiility that the pressure settings of the CPAP machine may need to be adjusted. This may be due to your weight change.

Other airway pressure devices:

This is also known as Auto-CPAP as the airway pressure device automatically adjusts the pressure while you are sleeping. There is also bi-level positive airway pressure or BPAP, which is similar to CPAP but provide more pressure when you breath in and less when you breath out.

Expiratory positive airway pressure (EPAP):

This is a small, single-use device which may help reduce snoring and daytime sleepiness in people with mild obstructive sleep apnea. These devices are placed over each nostril before you go to sleep. The device is a valve that allows air to move freely in. But air must go through small holes in the valve when you breath out. This increases pressure in the airway and keeps it open. It may be an option for those who can not tolerate CPAP.

Oral appliances:

Wearing an oral appliance designed to keep your throat open can sometimes relieve snoring and mild obstructive sleep apnea. These are designed in such a way to open your throat by bringing your jaw forward. You may need to try different devices to find a suitable one. Once you find the right fit, you will still need to follow up with your dentist repeatedly to ensure that the fit is still working good. Follow up with your dentist repeatedly during the first year and then regularly to reassess your signs and symptoms.

Surgery:

Usually surgery is the only option when other treatment fails. But before considering a surgery, at least a three-month trial of other treatment options is suggested. For people with certain jaw structure problems, surgery is the first option. The aim of surgery for sleep apnea is to enlarge the airway through your nose or throat that may be blocking your upper air passages and causing sleep apnea. Surgical options may include:

Tissue removal:

In this procedure tissues in the back of your throat and top of your throat are removed with radiofrequency energy. Usually your tonsils and adenoids are removed as well. Stopping throat structures from vibrating and causing snoring can be achieved by this method. People who can not tolerate CPAP or oral appliances are recommended for tissue removal. It is not considered as reliable treatment for obstructive sleep apnea and is less effective than CPAP.

Jaw repositioning:

Your jaw is moved forward from the remainder of your face bones in this procedure. The re-positioning of jaws will enlarge the space behind the tongue and soft palate, making obstruction less likely.

Implants:

Plastic rods are surgically implanted into the soft palate in this procedure. A local anesthesia will be given before surgery.

Tracheostomy:

This form of surgery is recommended if other treatments have failed and you have severe, life-threatening sleep apnea. Here the surgeon creates a new air passageway by making an opening in your neck and inserts a metal or plastic tube through which you breathe.
During the day time, keep the opening covered. Uncover it during night to allow air to pass in and out of your lungs, bypassing the blocked air passage in your throat.
Other types of surgery that may help reduce snoring by clearing or enlarging air passages include:

  • Deviated nasal septum in which nasal surgery is done to remove polyps or straighten a crooked partition between your nostrils.
  • Surgery to remove enlarged tonsils or adenoids
  • Weight-loss surgery


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