The increased risk for complications and health problems associated with sleep apnea can cause serious worries, but the good news is that there are available solutions that can help in the effective treatment of sleep apnea.
As sleep apnea cases differ in terms of severity, doctors may have varied recommendations. In the case of milder type of sleep apnea, lifestyle changes including weight loss or quitting smoking maybe suitable. However these measures cannot bring improvements for people with moderate to severe sleep apnea.
For severe sleep apnea conditions, a number of devices and treatments are available to treat the condition. Listed below are some of the most commonly used treatments for moderate to severe sleep apnea:
- Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) – This is a type of machine used in therapy to deliver air pressure through a mask placed over the nose while sleeping. By using CPAP, air pressure is increased compared with the surrounding air, enough to keep your upper airway passages from closing and prevent apnea and snoring.
- Adjustable Airway Pressure Devices – For people who find it difficult to treat sleep apnea through CPAP, an alternative airway pressure device can be used. This device automatically adjusts pressure while sleeping, so greater pressure is provided when person inhales and lesser pressure when one exhales.
- Expiratory Positive Airway Pressure (EPAP) – EPAP is the most recent treatment approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is a small, single-use device placed over each nostril before going to sleep. It acts as a valve that allows air to move freely and lets go of air through small holes when one exhales therefore increasing pressure in the airway to keep it open. It helps in reducing snoring and daytime sleepiness.
- Oral Appliances – Use of oral appliances is another option is that can keep the throat open by bringing the jaw forward to help relieve snoring and mild obstructive sleep apnea. Oral appliances are easier to use than CPAP and a number of devices can be availed from your dentist. You can also try different devices to find the one that suits you best. Follow up with your dentist at least every six months may be required during the first year and then yearly to ensure proper fit and to reassess signs and symptoms.
Surgery is usually considered as the most suitable option after all other treatments failed. At least a three-month trial of other treatment options is recommended before choosing to undergo surgery. It is intended to enlarge the airway through your nose or throat to prevent it from vibrating as it may cause snoring and blockage of upper air passages.
Some of the most common surgical options include:
- Tissue removal – This type of surgery is called uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP). It is a procedure wherein tissue from the rear of your mouth and top of your throat is removed along with the tonsils and adenoids.
- Jaw repositioning – This procedure moves the jaw forward from the remainder of your face bones in order to enlarge the space behind the tongue and soft palate. This will prevent obstruction from occuring. Jaw repositioning is called maxillomandibular advancement and may be combined with another procedure at times in order to improve the chance of success.
- Implants – These are plastic rods that surgically implanted into the soft palate of a patient under local anesthetic. This type of surgery is one of the suggested procedures for those with snoring or milder sleep apnea problems who cannot tolerate CPAP.
- Tracheostomy – This type of surgery may be required if other treatments have failed to open the airways. This is also appropriate for those with severe or life-threatening sleep apnea. In Tracheostomy is done to create an opening in the neck where a metal or plastic tube through which you breathe will be inserted. During the day, the opening is covered but at night it is left uncovered in order to allow air to pass in and out of your lungs, bypassing the obstructed air passage in your throat.
Once you are diagnose with sleep apnea, you should not be scared or worry that much because there are different solutions to treat your condition. Surgical and non-surgical options are available to make sure that sleep apnea will be treated in a way that works for you best.