Sleep Apnea Treatment

Sleep apnea may seem like an inconvenient problem, but health professionals believe that disorders like sleep apnea can be potentially dangerous if they are not treated properly. Sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by brief pauses in breathing during sleep. The pauses cause a partial arousal from sleep and prevent a good night’s rest. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, in some cases up to 100 times a night. This means the brain and the rest of the body may not get enough oxygen.

Types of Sleep Apnea

Central sleep apnea (CSA)

This occurs when the brain does not send the signal to the muscles to take a breath and there is no muscular effort to take a breath. During this type of sleep apnea, patients may have a difficult time getting to sleep or staying asleep, or may wake up with shortness of breath.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)

This occurs when the brain sends the signal to the muscles and the muscles make an effort to take a breath, but they are unsuccessful because the airway becomes obstructed and prevents an adequate flow of air.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Aside from disrupting your sleep, sleep apnea can interfere with your ability to concentrate during the day and patients with sleep apnea are at a higher risk of getting in an accident while driving or while they are at work. Sleep apnea symptoms can vary from patient to patient but here are some general symptoms:

  • Loud gasping during sleep
  • Disruptive snoring
  • Choking or gasping for breath while sleeping
  • Restless sleep
  • Irritability, confusion, poor attention and memory
  • Daytime sleepiness or frequent need for naps
  • Difficulty concentrating during the day
  • Waking multiple times through the night

Some symptoms may go undetected by the patient because they may not hear themselves snoring during sleep. A sleep partner can alert them to possible signs of sleep apnea or symptoms can be observed while undergoing a sleep study.

Treatments Available for Sleep Apnea

Fortunately, there are a wide variety of sleep apnea treatments available today. Sleep apnea treatments range from lifestyle changes, such as losing weight or changing sleep positions, to oral appliances, machine therapies or in extreme cases, surgery.

One treatment option for mild to moderate sleep apnea patients is the use of an oral appliance to keep the throat open while sleeping. Worn only during sleep, an oral appliance fits like a sports mouth guard or an orthodontic retainer. It works by keeping your jaw and tongue in a forward position so that they can’t block your airway even after your airway muscles fully relax in deep sleep. Many patients find these devices highly effective and easy to obtain from your dentist.

  • CPAP- The most common type of sleep apnea treatment is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). During this treatment, a machine delivers air pressure through a mask placed over the nose and mouth, while the patient sleeps. The CPAP machine keeps upper airway passages open, preventing both sleep apnea and snoring.
  • BPAP- Units that supply Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure (BPAP) provide more pressure when patients inhale and less when they exhale.
  • EPAP- Expiratory Positive Airway Pressure (EPAP) is another treatment option. During this treatment, a small device is placed over each nostril, allowing air to move more freely in and out of the nose.
  • Supplemental Oxygen- Supplemental oxygen can also be given while patients sleep.
  • ASV- Adaptive Servo-Ventilation is a device that learns breathing patterns and stores the information in a small computer. After the patient falls asleep, the machine uses regular pressure to make breathing patterns more normal and prevent pauses in breathing.

Surgery is usually the last option for sleep apnea patients when the other therapies are ineffective. Most medical professionals recommend trying non-surgical treatments for a period of time before undergoing any type of surgery for sleep apnea.

Treating sleep apnea promotes a healthier heart, body and mind. Rest assured with the exceptional sleep apnea treatments we provide. If you would like to know more about our services, please call our office. We are here to help.