Obstructive Sleep Apnea – Treatment

by Srinivasan Rajendran on August 21, 2023

Possible treatment options for obstructive sleep apnea include:

Weight loss, if needed: Losing even 10% of your weight can make a difference.

Not drinking alcohol or taking sleeping pills. These make your airway more likely to close during sleep and keep you from breathing like you should for longer periods.

Sleeping on your side. This can help if you get mild sleep apnea only when you sleep on your back.

Nasal sprays. These can help if sinus problems or nasal congestion make it harder to breathe while you sleep.

CPAP machine. This device includes a mask that you wear over your nose, mouth or both. An air blower forces constant air through your nose or mouth. The air pressure is just enough to keep your upper airway tissues from relaxing too much while you sleep. A similar device is the BPAP, which has two levels of airflow that change when you breathe in and out.

Oral devices. If you have mild sleep apnea, you might get dental appliances or oral “mandibular advancement” devices that keep your tongue from blocking your throat or bring your lower jaw forward. That may help keep your airway open while you sleep. A trained dental expert can decide which type of device may be best for you.

Surgery. This is for people who have extra or uneven tissue that blocks airflow through the nose or throat. For example, if you have a deviated nasal septum, swollen tonsils, and adenoids, or a small lower jaw that causes your throat to be too narrow, surgery might help you. Doctors usually try other treatments first.

Types of surgery for obstructive sleep apnea include:

Upper airway stimulator. This device, called Inspire, has a small pulse generator that your surgeon puts under the skin in your upper chest. A wire leading to your lung tracks your natural breathing pattern. Another wire, leading up to your neck, delivers mild signals to nerves that control your airway muscles, keeping them open. You can use a remote to turn it on before bed and turn it off in the morning.

Somnoplasty. Your doctor uses radiofrequency energy to tighten the tissue at the back of your throat.

UPPP, or UP3. This procedure takes out soft tissue in the back of your throat and palate, making your airway wider at your throat opening. (UPPP stands for uvulopalatopharyngoplasty.)

Nasal surgery. These operations correct obstructions in your nose, such as a deviated septum (when the wall between your nostrils is off-center).

Mandibular/maxillary advancement surgery. Your doctor moves your jawbone and face bones forward to make more room in the back of your throat. It’s a complex procedure used only for people who have severe sleep apnea and problems with their head or face.

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