Obstructive Sleep Apnea Treatment
What are the treatment options for obstructive sleep apnea?
We are going to assume you’ve seen your physician and been referred to a sleep lab for sleep testing. Your sleep test was positive for obstructive sleep apnea. What are your options not for obstructive sleep apnea treatment?
- The most common form of treatment is the CPAP machine. CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. The machine generates a set or variable pressure depending on what your physician has prescribed. Whichever one you have, the treatment remains the same. The machine generates the set pressure through tubing connected to a mask that uses the pressure to keep your airway open and prevent the obstruction that was occurring before treatment. You have many options as far as mask design goes. The company that provides your CPAP machine will let you try on different masks until you find one you feel comfortable with. They will also instruct you on the operation of the machine and cleaning procedures to keep your machine and mask in good working order.
- Oral appliances are another option for treating obstructive sleep apnea. Oral appliances are usually fitted by a dentist familiar with sleep medicine. An oral appliance works by pulling the lower jaw forward while you sleep to keep the jaw from dropping back and causing an obstruction. Oral appliances look similar to the mouth guards worn by football players. But they are specially designed and fitted to each individual. This may be an option for the small percentage of people who can’t tolerate CPAP.
- Weight loss is another option to help reduce obstructive sleep apnea. Although not a treatment in itself, weight loss may help decrease the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. Up to 70% of patients who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea are overweight. Large neck circumference is one of the indicators to suspect a patient may have obstructive sleep apnea. Losing weight may not totally cure your obstructive sleep apnea, but it may lessen the symptoms.
- Nasal sprays may help if you have allergies that cause post nasal drip during the night. If your post nasal drip is severe your sinuses can drain into the back of your throat, where the secretions can dry out and cause obstruction. Nasal sprays before bed may be able to help. Be sure and talk to your doctor before using, as some nasal sprays may not be safe to take with some medications or health conditions such as high blood pressure.
- If none of the above options are effective in treating severe sleep apnea, surgery may be the only other option. Your physician can advise you if that option is recommended in your case.
If you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea it is important that you seek treatment from a physician. Obstructive sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease or stroke. Work with your doctor to find a treatment plan that works for you so you can lessen your chance of developing any of these other conditions due to your sleep apnea.