What can be done to treat sleep apnea?

This question was asked in Holliston, Massachusetts on 06/11/2012.
I have sleep apnea and it causes me to snore every night and I was wondering what could be done for it?

Doctors Answers (6)

Lawrence J. Epstein, MD
Answered on: 9/14/2012

There are several options for treating obstructive sleep apnea. The first line treatment is positive airway pressure (PAP), a device that uses air, delivered through a mask covering the nose, to splint the airway open and prevent collapse. PAP is essentially 100% effective but does require a period of adjustment. Oral appliances, which are retainer-like devices that move the lower jaw and tongue forward and prevent airway collapse, are 50-70% effective in patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea and are reasonable alternatives to PAP for those patients. Surgical options, though less effective, offer the opportunity for a potential cure in some patients. Surgery is usually considered if other treatments are not effective or the person is unable to tolerate them. A new device, called an expiratory resistance device, uses band - aid like valves placed over the opening of the nose to restrict airflow and increase pressure in the back of the airspace to prevent airway collapse. An essential part of the clinical evaluation is determining if there any reversible anatomic factors that promote airway collapse. Large tonsils can obstruct the airway and removal may eliminate the problem. The most common contributor to airway collapse is being overweight. Weight loss always improves sleep apnea and, if sufficient weight is lost, may cure the problem and should be tried in all overweight patients with sleep apnea.

Syed Nabi, M.D.
Answered on: 6/15/2012

Sleep apnea is best treated with CPAP. Sometimes depending on the type of sleep apnea, positional therapy, oral devices, surgery can also be used. Best way to tell sleep apnea is usually with a sleep study and based on the sleep study you make treatment plan.

J. Douglas Hudson, MD, DABSM
Answered on: 6/13/2012

Sleep apnea (stopping breathing while asleep) can be treated in several ways. Treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea must include a method to keep the airway open by preventing obstruction of the airway behind and below the base of the tongue and soft palate. These structures tend to collapse against the wall of the pharynx. Prior to the invention of the CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine in the late 1970's the treatment for severe obstructive sleep apnea was a tracheotomy. This surgical procedure was to produce an opening to the trachea allowing air to enter the lungs. This treatment bypassed all the pathology and was very effective. This treatment is rarely used today for sleep apnea. CPAP therapy supplies a continuous flow of air into the oropharynx which "stents" the airway open, thus eliminating the obstruction. Other methods to eliminate or prevent obstruction to airflow include dental devices which move the jaw forward, nasal devices which create pressure in the pharynx to elevate the soft palate, suction devices to pull the palate forward, surgery to remove redundant palatal and tonsillar tissue and surgery to cut the mandible (jaw bone) and move it forward. CPAP therapy is the most effective. Many of the treatments may reduce snoring but not the apneas.

Ramie A. Tritt, M.D., FRCSC
Answered on: 6/12/2012

The cause and severity of your sleep apnea and snoring will dictate what can be done for you. In some situations weight loss allow will result in a remarkable improvement of symptoms. For other people, medical treatment for nasal congestion, such as those suffering from allergies, may result in improvement of one's snoring. An oral appliance may also be considered. Then there is the use of the CPAP machine which keeps the throat tissues from collapsing and blocking the breathing passageways. Surgery is another option to be considered; and there are multiple surgical procedures depending on the area having the greatest effect on the snoring symptom. Of course every patient needs an in depth evaluation of their breathing passageway, known as "the airway", starting from the tip of the nose down to the windpipe area. As a practicing otolaryngologist (ENT) specializing in sleep apnea and snoring disorders, the first step I do when a patient comes into my office with complaints of snoring and sleep apnea symptoms is a complete and thorough evaluation of "the airway".

Richard J. Schumann Jr., MD
Answered on: 6/11/2012

There are numerous effective therapies to treat sleep disordered breathing including positive airway pressure (PAP), oral appliance and surgical procedures on the palate. If you haven't already done so, you should seek help from a sleep speicalist who can perform diagnostic tests on you to see about the severity and the most appropriate treatment form there.

Marjorie Yong, M.D.
Answered on: 6/11/2012

Sleep apnea can be treated with a number of treatments: 1. Nutrition treatment 2. Oral devices 3. CPAP-BiPap machines 4. surgery