Treating sleep apnea restores healthy sleep, improves quality of life and decreases health risks.
- Lifestyle changes
- Weight loss
- CPAP therapy
- Positional therapy
- Oral appliance therapy
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
Weight management: Overweight people often have thick neck with extra tissue in the throat that may block the airway.
CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure)-CPAP is a machine that uses a steady stream of air to gently keep your airway open throughout the night, so you are able to breathe. You sleep with a mask with a hose that is attached to a machine kept at the bedside. Masks and machines may vary depending on your treatment and comfort needs. CPAP is the frontline treatment for sleep apnea and is usually recommended for most patients.
Positional therapy: Some people have sleep apnea primarily when sleeping on their back. This is called the “supine” position. Their breathing returns to normal when they sleep on their side. Positional therapy may involve wearing a special device around your waist or back. It keeps you sleeping in the side position.
Oral appliance therapy- An oral appliance is a device that fits in your mouth over your teeth while you sleep. It may resemble a sports mouth guard or an orthodontic retainer. The device prevents the airway from collapsing by holding the tongue in position or by sliding your jaw forward so that you can breathe when you are asleep. Some patients prefer sleeping with an oral appliance over a CPAP machine. A dentist trained in dental sleep medicine can fit you with an oral appliance after you are diagnosed with sleep apnea. Oral appliance therapy is recommended for patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea who cannot tolerate CPAP or simply prefer to try the oral appliance instead of a CPAP device.
Surgery- There are a variety of surgical options you can elect to have if CPAP or oral appliance therapy does not work for you. The most common options reduce or eliminate the extra tissue in your throat that collapses and blocks your airway during sleep. More complex procedures can adjust your bone structures including the jaw, nose and facial bones. A newer option where an implantable device causes the muscles of the tongue to contract and lead to a more open airway may have a role in selected patients who fail CPAP therapy or decline it. Weight loss surgery may also be an option.
Untreated sleep apnea increases risk of:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Pre-diabetes and diabetes
- Accidents or impaired judgments
Severe OSA hurts HEARTS by increasing the risk of:
- H – Heart failure
- E – Elevated blood pressure
- A – Atrial fibrillation
- R – Resistant hypertension
- T – Type 2 diabetes
- S – Stroke
If left untreated, moderate and severe obstructive sleep apnea can more than double your risk of dying from heart disease.