Sleep Apnea Treatment

Sleep Apnea Treatments

Sleep apnea is when you stop breathing while you sleep.

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Treatments can include lifestyle changes, such as losing weight or changing sleep positions, medical devices like CPAP machines, or surgery.

Treating Sleep Apnea at Home

You may be able to treat mild sleep apnea with some lifestyle changes. Your doctor may recommend that you:

  • Lose weight
  • Not use alcohol and sleeping pills
  • Change sleep positions to improve breathing
  • Stop smoking. Smoking can increase swelling in your upper airway, which may make both snoring and apnea worse.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)

With continuous positive airway pressure -- also called CPAP -- you wear a mask over your nose and/or mouth while you sleep. The mask is hooked up to a machine that delivers a constant flow of air into your nose. This airflow helps keep your airways open so you can breathe the way you should. CPAP is the most common treatment for sleep apnea. Bi-level positive airway pressure, or BPAP, is similar to CPAP. But the airflow changes when you breathe in and out.

Oral Appliances for Sleep Apnea

Dental devices can help keep your airway open while you sleep. Dentists with special expertise in treating sleep apnea can design them for you.

Surgery for Sleep Apnea

You might need surgery If you have a medical condition that makes your throat too narrow. These conditions include enlarged tonsils, a small lower jaw with an overbite, or a deviated nasal septum (when the wall between your nostrils is off-center).

The most common types of surgery for sleep apnea include:

  • Nasal surgery: This fixes nasal problems such as a deviated septum.
  • Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP): This takes out soft tissue from the back of your throat and palate, making your airway wider at the opening of your throat.
  • Mandibular maxillomandibular advancement surgery: This fixes certain facial problems or throat blockages that play a role in sleep apnea.

Other Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea

Somnoplasty. Procedures done in your doctor’s office can shrink and stiffen the tissue of your soft palate.

Upper airway stimulation (UAS). If you can’t use a CPAP, you might get a device called Inspire. It’s an upper airway stimulator. Your doctor puts a small pulse generator under the skin on your upper chest. A wire that goes to your lung detects your natural breathing pattern. Another wire up to your neck sends mild signals to the nerves that control your airway muscles, keeping them open. You can use a handheld remote control to turn it on before bed and turn it off after you wake up.

Medication. Drugs like solriamfetol (Sunosi) can treat the sleepiness that often comes with sleep apnea.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on November 05, 2019



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National Institutes of Health.

WebMD Medical News: "Sleep Apnea Implant Gets Another Boost."

News release, FDA.

American Sleep Apnea Association.

Mayo Clinic: “Deviated septum.”

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