You have been diagnosed with sleep apnea and are now wondering which treatment options are for you. You physician will present you several treatment methods depending on the reason for your sleep apnea or severity of your sleep apnea. Whatever your diagnosis, we would like you to know all the sleep apnea treatment options available to you. Over 50 percent of the people diagnosed with sleep apnea do not regularly treat it. Most people become non-compliant with non-curative options and stop treatment all together.
The most common treatment options are:
- Lifestyle Changes
- CPAP Therapy
- Oral Appliance
- Radiofrequency Ablation
- Surgical Options
Eating healthy and regular exercise can help you lose weight. Weight loss has been shown to reduce the number of times breathing ceases due to sleep apnea. Taking off extra pounds will help airflow to your lungs and in turn, increase energy and stamina. Hence, visiting a dietitian or a nutritional counselor can help you manage your sleep apnea.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
With continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment, patients wear a mask over their nose or nose and mouth while sleeping to treat obstructive sleep apnea. The primary function of the CPAP device is to prevent the airway restriction that can prompt episodes of sleep apnea. The upper airway is held open through a pressurized stream of air that is filtered through the mask. Adjustments can be made to ensure that your CPAP mask fits comfortably and that air pressure is delivered evenly. In the past CPAP has been used as the gold standard of treatment for sleep apnea. The problem with this treatment method is that over 50% of the people using it become non-compliant and stop using the device. Due to a variety of reasons, a CPAP mask can seem uncomfortable. It can be too large, small or tight, which can in turn leave red marks on your face. For some, a poorly fitting CPAP mask can make the person feel claustrophobic.
Utilized to keep the airway open thus preventing sleep apnea pauses from occurring. Fundamentally this treatment option is a mouthpiece that pushes the jaw forward in order to keep the airway open. Alternatively, an oral appliance prevents the tongue from obstructing the free flow of air. However, individuals with mild sleep apnea and who are not obese would benefit the most from using an oral appliance. As with orthodontic appliances, people who wear this device for the treatment of their sleep apnea must return to the doctor’s office for resizing and repositioning.
The latest surgical option to treat and cure sleep apnea is radiofrequency ablation of the tongue. In the past, this surgery was performed in a hospital setting, required an overnight stay and a long and painful recovery period. Today as an in-office procedure, RFA is minimally invasive and performed over the course of, on average, six treatment sessions. Small amounts of energy are directed to the tongue, which causes the tissue to shrink, and scar down. The end result is that the tongue is reduced in size and thus the obstruction of the airway is all but eliminated.
Not only have 100 percent of patients experienced a reduction of their apnea symptoms, but 73 percent will be cured of their sleep apnea.
During an uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), the tissue of the soft palate (roof of the mouth) is trimmed and reshaped. This surgical option works by removing the tissue that had been blocking the airway. The UPPP is for very severe sufferers and can be very painful.
Another surgical option is known as maxillomandibular advancement or in other words jaw repositioning. The surgery involves moving the upper (maxilla) and lower (mandibular) jaws forward in order to open up the airway. The surgeon, at the same time, might also tighten the soft palate, tongue and other tissue that might be interfering with overnight breathing. Jaw repositioning requires hospitalization overnight and quite often the patient’s jaws will need to be wired together for several weeks to keep the new position intact.
One of the most drastic surgical options for treatment of sleep apnea is a tracheostomy. This procedure involves the surgeon bypassing the obstruction by making a direct opening in the person’s neck into the windpipe or trachea. Granted this surgery works but there is the potential for psychosocial issues.
Now that you have know all the treatment options you can have an educated discussion with your physician about which option you would be most comfortable with.
If you suspect you might have sleep apnea, been diagnosed or would like to find out how you can avoid the high risk of developing other conditions, contact one of our medical concierges today at 1-855-863-4537 to schedule a consultation.