Sleep apnea is a condition where a person's upper airway becomes blocked while he or she is sleeping, thus reducing the amount of air a person breathes or preventing breathing completely. A person with sleep apnea may wake up several times a night when they are not getting enough air; this cycle of waking repeatedly can result is sleep deprivation and other health issues. Luckily, there are several treatment options available for sleep apnea. Some of the most common sleep apnea treatments include:
The majority of people who suffer from sleep apnea are either overweight or obese. In many cases, losing weight can help improve sleep apnea, and some people no longer show symptoms of sleep apnea when a significant amount of weight is lost. Some doctors may consider prescribing medication to help a patient lose weight to see if the weight loss helps with his or her sleep apnea. If weight loss does not help improve a person's condition, other forms of treatment will be considered.
Many people with sleep apnea use oral appliances while they are sleeping to prevent their airway from becoming blocked. These types of oral applicances are designed to hold the lower jaw forward while sleeping, which helps keep the airway open and stops the collapse of muscles in the upper airway that can cause a blockage. If a doctor recommends an oral appliance to a sleep apnea patient, the best option is to get one custom made. This involves a visit to a dentist who has received special training in fitting oral appliances for sleep disorders.
Positive Airway Pressure Device
One of the most popular forms of treatment for sleep apnea is a positive airway pressure device. Most people use a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine while sleeping to treat sleep apnea. When a person uses a CPAP machine, a mask is placed over the face while asleep; pressurized air flows through the mask and into the throat, and the pressurized air keeps the airway open while a person is sleeping.
In some cases, a surgery may be recommended for a person who has sleep apnea. If the patient is a child, his or her doctor may suggest taking out the tonsils or adenoids. In adults, a surgeon will do a comprehensive exam of the upper airway to discover where the issue lies. There are several different types of surgeries used on adults to treat sleep apnea; the exact type of surgery is dependent on what is wrong with their upper airway.