How is sleep apnea treated?
Based on the symptoms and severity of sleep apnea, a health care professional will recommend best possible treatment options. Sleep apnea can be treated in a number of different ways:
(1) Behaviour and lifestyle modification: Weight loss is the most important factor, and patients have been cured of sleep apnea after losing weight. Other considerations are: regular exercise, smoking cessation, avoidance of alcohol or sedatives before sleeping, and learning to sleep on your side instead of your back.
(2) Surgery: This ‘opens’ up the back of the throat. Surgery is an excellent way of treating snoring, however, the success rate for treating symptomatic sleep apnea is low. As such, surgery is not considered a first line treatment for sleep apnea.
(3) Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP): CPAP consists of a portable machine that blows pressurized air through a mask that is worn over the nose. The pressurized air holds the airway open, and thus prevents apneas.
(4) Dental oral appliance: A mouth guard worn only during sleep which advances the lower jaw, thus opening up the space at the back of the throat, allowing more airflow.