Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) Treatment Options
First: Speak To Your Doctor
Sleep Apnea is a serious medical condition. The information here is provided for educational purposes only; it cannot replace the personal knowledge, treatment and advice of your doctor. If you think you have Sleep Apnea, or are experiencing symptoms, the best first step is ALWAYS to speak with your doctor or sleep therapist.
Home & Lifestyle Treatment Options
There are many things you can do on your own to help control or reduce sleep apnea symptoms. In particular people with mild to moderate sleep apnea often experience great benefits from the following home remedies and lifestyle modifications.:
- Lose Some Weight - About 70% of people with OSA are overweight or obese. Some people find that moderate sleep apnea can be completely corrected, and more severe sleep apnea symptoms can be improved, by losing excess weight. While weight loss is not a "cure all" for OSA most health care professionals agree that it is often a good first step in treatment.
- Smoke Less - Smoking may contribute to increased inflammation and fluid retention in the throat and upper airway so smoking less or stopping smoking altogether can often help reduce OSA symptoms.
- Follow A Sleep Routine - People who are getting enough sleep at night tend to have fewer apnea episodes during sleep. Try to go to bed around the same time each night -- during the work week and on weekends -- and reduce alcohol, caffeine, and food intake during the two hours prior to bedtime. Let your body prepare for sleep before bedtime and your sleep will be better when you get there.
- Positional Therapy - For some people sleep apnea only occurs when they are sleeping on their back. Such people can sometimes eliminate or reduce airway blockages simply by learning to sleep on their side. This "positional therapy" generally only works in mild cases of OSA though.
Medical & Surgical Treatment Options
In conjunction with the home and lifestyle treatment options listed above many Sleep Apnea patients can benefit from medical and surgical treatment options. Sleep Apnea treatment -- especially CPAP and EPAP therapy -- has come a long way in recent years. If you have tried treatment before and given up, please take a fresh look. We think you'll be glad you did.
- Positive Airway Pressure (PAP) Therapy - PAP therapy devices use gentle air pressure, delivered via a mask or interface on the nose and/or mouth, to open your airway and treat many forms of Sleep Apnea. There are three primary types of PAP devices:
- CPAP - Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices deliver a steady, gentle flow of air throughout the night and are very effective treatment for sleep apnea. Your doctor prescribes one therapy pressure to open your airway, which is what your device is set to deliver throughout the night. Devices are equipped with various features that can help make therapy more comfortable.
- BiLEVEL / BiPAP - BiLevel Positive Airway Pressure (BiLevel / BiPAP) devices are set to deliver two levels of pressure during the night -- a lower pressure when you breathe out (exhalation) and a higher level of pressure when you breathe in (inhalation). These devices are sometimes prescribed for patients who have trouble tolerating one constant pressure from a CPAP device. Most are equipped with various features that can help make therapy more comfortable.
- AUTO-CPAP & AUTO-BiLEVEL - Auto therapy devices are similar to the CPAP and BiLevel devices described above; however auto devices sense your needs and provide variable CPAP or BiLevel pressures throughout the night. As with the other models, auto therapy devices are equipped with various features that can help make therapy more comfortable.
- Expiratory Positive Airway Pressure (EPAP) - One of the newest options for Sleep Apnea treatment is EPAP Therapy. If you haven't been able to adjust to the CPAP mask and machine then EPAP may be a good option for further treatment. Provent Sleep Apnea Therapy is a discreet, disposable device that is applied to the nostrils nightly and requires no mask or machine. FDA Approved Provent Therapy uses the power of your own breathing to create Expiratory Positive Airway Pressure (EPAP) to hold the airway open and enable natural airflow.
- Oral Appliances - Another Sleep Apnea treatment option is wearing an oral appliance designed to keep your throat open. Oral appliances may be easier to use than PAP devices however PAP therapy is generally considered a more reliable and effective treatment in most cases. Oral devices are designed to open your throat, usually by bringing your jaw forward, which can sometimes relieve snoring and mild obstructive sleep apnea.
- Surgery - For most people with Sleep Apnea surgery -- including tissue removal, jaw repositioning, nasasl surgery, air passageway creation (tracheostomy), etc. -- is only an option after other treatments have failed. Surgery is usually carried out with the goal of enlarging the airway through your nose and throat that may be blocking your upper air passages and causing sleep apnea.