Sleep Apnea Treatments

Dental Interventions, Effective Treatment

5 Treatment Options for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea causes breathing to repeatedly stop and start while you sleep. It happens when something partly or completely blocks the upper airway as you snooze. If you think that you have OSA, the first thing that you need to do is to see a doctor and undergo a sleep apnea test. OSA should be diagnosed and treated promptly.

Treatment depends on the severity of your obstructive sleep apnea. People with mild apnea have a wider variety of treatment options while those who have moderate to severe apnea, a number of other treatments are available.

Here is the list of the treatment options for obstructive sleep apnea.

Lifestyle Changes

One of the treatment options for OSA is lifestyle changes. If you have a milder case of sleep apnea, your doctor may recommend making lifestyle changes. These changes include losing weight and quitting smoking and drinking.

A case report entitled Lifestyle Modifications and the Resolution of Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome: A Case Report showed that dietary modifications can be an effective tool in improving the management of OSA. People who are overweight, especially those who have extra fat around their jaw and neck are more likely to acquire sleep apnea than those who have a healthy weight. The extra fat and tissue around the neck can put more pressure on the airway.

Changing your lifestyle by maintaining a healthier weight and quitting smoking and alcohol can prevent more pressure on your airway and relaxation of the throat muscles that cause OSA.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) is an OSA treatment used to treat moderate to severe cases. It is the most common and reliable method of treating OSA but some people find it uncomfortable.

CPAP uses a machine while you sleep. This CPAP machine delivers air pressure through a mask placed over the nose. With this method, the air pressure is greater than the surrounding air. It is also enough to keep your upper airway passages open to prevent snoring and apnea.

CPAP is an effective way to stop snoring and apnea because it continuously delivers air pressure to your upper airway passages.

Oral Appliances

Using oral appliances is another treatment for sleep apnea. It continues to increase in popularity as the public’s awareness of using oral appliances as an effective first line of treatment grows. There are more than 100 oral appliances approved by the FDA for treating sleep apnea and snoring.

The American Academy of Sleep approved oral appliance usage for mild to moderate OSA. The American Academy of Sleep also recommended using oral appliance for people with moderate to severe OSA who cannot tolerate or wear CPAP devices.

Oral appliances are worn in the mouth, just like a sports mouth guard while you sleep. They hold the lower jaw forward to keep the airway open and to prevent the muscles in your upper airway and tongue to collapse and block the airway.

Surgical Procedure

If the other treatment options have failed, surgery is the only option available to treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea. For people with certain jaw structure problem, surgery is the first option given by medical professionals as well.

The goals of sleep apnea surgery are to enlarge the airway through the throat or nose that causes you to snore or may be blocking the upper air passages that cause sleep apnea. There are three surgical options available.

Jaw Repositioning

Also known as maxillomandibular advancement, In this surgery procedure, the jaw is moved forward from the remainder of the facial bones. This process enlarges the space behind the soft palate and the tongue to make the obstruction less likely.

Tissue Removal

Also called as uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, this procedure involves the doctor removing the tissue from the top of your throat and the rear of your mouth. The tonsils and adenoids are usually removed, too.

Tissue removal surgery can be successful in stopping the throat structures from vibrating, causing snoring. It is less effective than CPAP but for people who cannot tolerate CPAP and other oral devices, removing the tissues in the back of the throat using radio frequency energy is the best option.

Tracheostomy

Tracheostomy procedure is performed in life-threatening cases of sleep apnea. In this procedure, the surgeon makes an opening in the neck and inserts a plastic or metal tube to help you breathe. This opening is covered during the day but kept uncovered during the night to allow air to pass in and out of the lungs to bypass the blocked air passage in the throat.

Surgery can help in reducing snoring and contribute to sleep apnea treatment by enlarging or clearing the air passages.

Medicine

Medical professionals rarely suggest using medicine to treat OSA. However, for children with mild sleep apnea and surgery is not an option, giving intranasal corticosteroid medicine can be the only option.

Medication can be taken in conjunction with CPAP to reduce the number of times you stop breathing at night. Some drugs also help patients in managing sleep apnea symptoms including difficulty in sleeping and daytime sleepiness.

Over-the-counter drugs should only be used upon the advice of the doctor if you have sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea can be treated in different ways. Talk to your doctor or see a sleep expert like a dentist about the best treatment for you before you try these treatments.

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