Sleep Apnea Treatment
There are multiple ways to treat sleep apnea. Which one works best for you will depend on a variety of things such as the severity of your sleep apnea, physical limitations, your preferences, and other factors. The most common practices for treating sleep apnea include PAP treatment, dental appliances, weight loss, and surgery.
PAP treatment is the most commonly prescribed treatment for sleep apnea. Safer and more affordable than surgery, PAP treatment is also proven to reduce sleep apnea episodes by more than 90%.
PAP (Positive Airway Pressure) Treatment For Sleep Apnea
The most common and effective way to treat sleep apnea, whether you have obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, or complex sleep apnea syndrome is by using a positive airway pressure machine. PAP machines move high pressured air through your airways to keep them open while you sleep.
- Automatic Positive Airway Pressure (AutoPAP) - Designed to deliver varying levels of air through your airways while you sleep. This device automatically adjust the air pressure to deliver only what is needed to prevent sleep apnea episodes.
- Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) - Designed to deliver a consistent level of pressurized air through your airways while you sleep, preventing sleep apnea episodes.
AutoPAP machines are preferred by sleep physicians for treating sleep apnea. They provide more comfort to the user than traditional CPAP machines. Light air pressure flows when the device is first turned on, enabling the user to more easily fall asleep. As deeper levels of sleep are reached, the AutoPAP increases air pressure to prevent sleep apnea episodes, helping the user to remain asleep through the night.
Oral Appliances For Sleep Apnea Treatment
Oral appliances can be used to treat sleep apnea. They closely resemble a mouth guard and are designed to hold the jaw in a position that allows for unobstructed breathing. These appliances may be effective in treating those who have mild-to-moderate sleep apnea. The FDA has approved the use of oral appliances prescribed by dental physicians for treating sleep apnea. However, many of the over-the-counter oral appliances available are not FDA-approved for treating sleep apnea.
Treating Sleep Apnea With Surgery
The most common surgery used to treat sleep apnea is called uvulopalatopharyngoplasty. This surgery involves removal of throat tissues to prevent the collapse of airways during deep sleep. It has roughly a 60% success rate, meaning that almost half the patients who undergo this sleep surgery and the painful recovery still suffer from sleep apnea post surgery. Though with surgery, symptoms of sleep apnea were dramatically improved in 90% of a recent study group.
Upper Airway Stimulation Therapy
Upper airway stimulation therapy is a new practice for treating sleep apnea. A system of three small devices is implanted beneath the skin, near the chest and throat region. It is controlled by a handheld remote. This device senses breathing patterns as you sleep. Should breathing patterns show a disturbance, the device delivers mild stimulation to maintain multilevel airway patency.
Lifestyle Changes That Can Minimize Sleep Apnea Symptoms
There are several lifestyle changes you can make to assist with your sleep apnea symptoms. Depending on the type of sleep apnea you have, making these changes may be able to help you completely resolve your sleep apnea. Some of the essential changes you can make are:
- Lose weight - Obesity is one of the major factors in obstructive sleep apnea, making weight loss a natural lifestyle change for those who want to manage their sleep apnea. While some people can develop sleep apnea at a healthy BMI (body mass index), being obese significantly raises your risk factors.
- Reduce/stop substance use - Smoking causes inflammation in the airways which worsens sleep apnea symptoms. Alcohol contributes to throat relaxation which also contributes to more severe sleep apnea symptoms. Limiting the use of these substances can significantly improve sleep apnea symptoms.
- Exercise - Not only can exercise assist with the weight loss process, but regular exercise helps rebuild your muscles, lower your blood pressure, and improve your cardiovascular health. As many of those things contribute to obstructive sleep apnea, exercise can play a key part in resolving your sleep apnea.
As you implement these lifestyle changes, do make sure to use other sleep apnea treatment methods such as your AutoPAP machine. That way, you can stay protected from the side effects of sleep apnea as you work on making these life alterations.
Find Sleep Apnea Treatment At ApneaMed
Our board-certified sleep physicians recommend using an AutoPAP machine to treat sleep apnea. The ApneaMed AutoPAP machine includes a humidifier, mask, and hose. Replacement parts including filters can also be ordered through ApneaMed.org.