Treatment Options
How Is Sleep Apnea Treated?

Goals of Treatment
The goals of treating obstructive sleep apnea are to:

• Restore regular breathing during sleep

• Relieve symptoms such as loud snoring and daytime sleepiness

Treatment may help other medical problems linked to sleep apnea, such as high blood pressure. Treatment also can reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

Specific Types of Treatment
Lifestyle changes, oral appliances, breathing devices, and/or surgery are used to treat sleep apnea. Currently, there are no medicines to treat sleep apnea.

If you have sleep apnea, talk to your doctor or sleep specialist about the treatment options that are most appropriate for your specific condition.

Lifestyle changes may be enough to relieve mild sleep apnea. Oral appliances may successfully treat mild to moderate sleep apnea.

People who have moderate or severe sleep apnea may need breathing devices or surgery.

Lifestyle Changes
If you have mild sleep apnea, some changes in daily activities or habits may be all that you need.

• Avoid alcohol and medicines that make you sleepy. They make it harder for your throat to stay open while you sleep.

• Lose weight if you are overweight or obese. Even a little weight loss can improve your symptoms.

• Sleep on your side instead of your back to help keep your throat open. You can sleep with special pillows or shirts that prevent you from sleeping on your back.

• Keep your nasal passages open at night with nose sprays or allergy medicines, if needed. Talk to your doctor about whether these treatments might help you.

• Stop smoking.

Oral Appliances
A mouthpiece, also known as an oral appliance, may help some people who have mild to moderate sleep apnea. An oral appliance may also be recommended if you snore loudly but don't have sleep apnea.

Apnea Options dental sleep professionals can make a custom-fit plastic oral appliance for treating sleep apnea. The appliance will adjust your lower jaw and your tongue to help keep your airway open while you sleep.

If you use a oral appliance, it is important that you follow up with our office about discomfort or pain while using the device. You may need periodic office visits so that your appliance can be adjusted to fit better.

Breathing Devices
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is the most common treatment for moderate to severe sleep apnea in adults. A CPAP machine uses a mask that fits over your mouth and nose, or just over your nose. The machine gently blows air into your throat.
The air presses on the wall of your airway. The air pressure is adjusted so that it is just enough to stop the airway from becoming narrowed or blocked during sleep.

Treating sleep apnea may help you stop snoring. But stopping snoring doesn't mean that you no longer have sleep apnea or can stop using CPAP. Sleep apnea will return if CPAP therapy is stopped or not used correctly.

Usually, a technician will come to your home to bring the CPAP equipment. The technician will set up the CPAP machine and adjust it based on your doctor's orders. After the initial setup, you may need to have the CPAP adjusted on occasion for the best results.

CPAP treatment may cause side effects in some people. These side effects include a dry or stuffy nose, irritated skin on your face, sore eyes, and headaches. If your CPAP isn't properly adjusted, you may get stomach bloating and discomfort while wearing the mask.

If you are having trouble with CPAP side effects, work with your sleep specialist, his or her nursing staff, and the CPAP technician. Together, you can take steps to reduce these side effects. These steps include adjusting the CPAP settings or the size/fit of the mask, or adding moisture to the air as it flows through the mask. A nasal spray may relieve a dry, stuffy, or runny nose.

There are many different kinds of CPAP machines and masks. Be sure to tell your doctor if you're not happy with the type you're using. He or she may suggest switching to a different kind that may work better for you.

People who have severe sleep apnea symptoms generally feel much better once they begin treatment with CPAP.

Some people who have sleep apnea may benefit from surgery. The type of surgery and how well it works depend on the cause of the sleep apnea.

Surgery is done to widen breathing passages. It usually involves removing, shrinking, or stiffening excess tissue in the mouth and throat or resetting the position of the lower jaw.

Surgery to shrink or stiffen excess tissue in the mouth or throat is done in a doctor's office or a hospital. Shrinking tissue may involve small injections or other treatments to the tissue. A series of such treatments may be needed to shrink the excess tissue. To stiffen excess tissue, the doctor makes a small cut in the tissue and inserts a small piece of stiff plastic.

Surgery to remove excess tissue is only done in a hospital. You are given medicine that makes you sleep during the surgery. After surgery, you may have throat pain that lasts for 1 to 2 weeks.

Surgery to remove the tonsils, if they're blocking the airway, may be very helpful for some children. Your child's doctor may suggest waiting some time to see whether these tissues shrink on their own. This shrinking of the tonsillar tissue is common as small children grow.

Call 727.786.7550 for an appointment!