Treatment of Sleep Apnea

There are both surgical as well as non-surgical methods of treatment for sleep apnea. We will discuss both of them in the present article.  The most commonly used treatment as well effective mode of treatment of sleep apnea disorder is by using a device known as CPAP or continuous positive airway pressure. This device splints open the airway of the patient while he is sleeping by flowing pressurized air inside the throat. The fact is a CPAP device only helps in inhaling. On the other hand, a BiPAP device helps in both exhaling as well as inhaling & it is being used in really severe cases.

Apart from the CPAP treatment, a dentist who has specialized in sleep related problems can even recommend OAT or Oral Appliance Therapy. The OAT is a normal mouthpiece which shifts forward your lower jaw and opens the airway. In general the Oral Appliance Therapy works well on patients suffering from mild-moderate obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OAT is basically a new method of treatment used for sleep apnea. It is usually practiced in Europe, Canada and United States.
OAT and CPAP are effective for OSA or obstructive sleep apnea and not for mixed or central cases. When obstructive sleep apnea is in the mild stage, using a special kind of shirt or pillow might decrease episodes of sleep apnea. It makes the user in sleeping at the side of the pillow or shirt rather than on back or reclined posture rather than flat.
There are some patients who cannot bear non-surgical treatments; in that case surgical treatment is available for anatomically altering the airway. A surgical treatment can take into consideration different obstruction levels like base of the tongue, nasal passage, pharynx (throat) as well as the facial skeleton. Surgical treatments for OSA or obstructive sleep apnea should be individualized for addressing all the anatomical sites of obstruction. Sometimes, nasal passage also needs to be corrected apart from correcting oropharynx passage. Turbinate surgery and Septoplasty might improve your nasal airway.     
Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP or UP3) and Tonsillectomy can be performed for addressing pharyngeal obstruction. There are also other techniques available like suspension and hyoid bone myotomy and different radiofrequency technologies. Those patients who cannot tolerate these surgeries, facial skeletal might be advanced through a method known as maxillo-mandibular advancement.

Medications such as Acetazolamide help in lowering the blood pH & encourage respiration. Low dosages of oxygen help in treating hypoxia. However, they are not used because of their possible side effects. Topical nasal decongestants such as neosynephrine and oxymetalizone help in improving nasal swelling temporarily. Some nasal steroids have also shown to be effective in some cases. Other medicines like medroxyprogesterone (Cycrin, Provera, and Amen), theophylline (Respbid, Theo-dur, Theo-24, Slo-Bid, Theolair, Slo-Phyllin, Uniphyl,), acetazolamide (Diamox), serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and tricyclic antidepressants have also proved to be quite effective.

The different methods of treatments have different risks as well as benefits. For example, the major benefit of CPAP treatment is that it is cost-effective. However, it cannot cure sleep apnea. MMA or Maxillomandibular advancement is considered to be the most suitable surgery used for ‘sleep apnea’. This is because it helps in increasing PAS or posterior airway space.
Individuals suffering from sleep apnea usually need greater intensive monitoring just after the surgery. If any patient of sleep apnea is undergoing any kind of medical treatment. You should ensure the doctor is fully informed about the person’s condition. Before, you begin with any possible treatment of sleep apnea ensure that you know the side effects of the treatment. Last but not the least, before thinking about the treatment, you should be fully aware of the fact that you are having sleep apnea because many of its symptoms resemble other sleep disorders as well.

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