Sleep Apnea Treatments

A health care provider may be able to diagnosis sleep apnea through a survey that can be given to you that asks a series of questions about things such as daytime fatigue, sleep quality, and sleeping habits. It may be a good idea to ask your health care provider for a similar survey during a routine health exam. If your physician determines that you may have obstructive sleep apnea, a sleep study (polysomnogram) is used to confirm the diagnosis. If the diagnosis is severe, an electrocardiogram or echocardiogram may be administered.

A few remedies that may assist with alleviating or reducing sleep apnea symptoms are as follows:

  • Sleeping on the stomach
  • Avoiding any alcohol, sleeping medications or other sedatives in the evening
  • Maintaining a healthy weight

Physician Prescribed Treatments:

CPAP (Continuous positive airway pressure) CPAP is usually the first treatment given to patients who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. It delivers slightly pressurized air during the breathing cycle. This process helps keep the air passage in the lungs stay open during sleep. This treatment works best for those who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea.  The CPAP machine is compact and weighs about 5 pounds.  A mask fits on the face, just covering the nose. A tube connects the nose piece to the device. The machine transports a consistent stream of air under slight pressure through the tube to the nose and into the lungs.

You will be fitted for a mask to ensure that you get the most comfortable fit possible. The machine also has adjustable settings that will be customized based on the severity of your condition. If you are using the CPAP machine, but your sleep apnea symptoms does not improve, the settings on the machine may need to be modified.

It may take some time and tried patience to get used to the CPAP device.  Often times the first nights are difficult to adjust to. However, the outcomes may be rewarding and many people have reported improved sleeping conditions and reduced symptoms after being treated with CPAP.

The CPAP can cause symptoms of its own, not related to sleep apnea symptoms. Some of these are noted below:

  • Nosebleeds
  • Claustrophobia
  • Irritation on the bridge of the caused by the mask
  • Eye irritation
  • Upper respiratory infections
  • Chest muscle discomfort, which usually subsides

More invasive procedures may be needed if patients don’t respond well to the CPAP treatment. Some patients may need dental devices inserted into the mouth at night to keep the jaw forward. Surgery is a final alternative to remedy the condition, however in some cases may be necessary and may entail the following:

  • Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) –  conducted to remove excess tissue at the back of the throat
  • Tracheostomy – conducted to create an opening in the windpipe to bypass the blocked airway if there are anatomical problems (this procedure is severe and is rarely needed)
  • Surgery on the nose and sinuses or removing the tonsils and adenoids