Treatment for Sleep Apnea
Night after night, sleep apnea plagues nearly 18 million Americans. Studies link its occurrence to hypertension, diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. Many people might think it a relatively harmless disorder, but the fact is, it can lead to or exacerbate serious medical problems. Treatment for sleep apnea often begins with recommended lifestyle changes like weight loss, sleeping on the side of the body, quitting smoking, and avoiding alcohol before bedtime.
If lifestyle adjustments fall short, your doctor may move onto medical treatment for sleep apnea, which may include:
These are also referred to as oral appliances and are specially made to fit the mouth of every patient. The mouthpiece is designed to push your jaw forward and keep your tongue from falling backward and obstructing your airway.
- Breathing Machines
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is the most popular treatment for sleep apnea. It involves wearing a mask that fits over your nose and mouth. Pressurized air flows from a machine through a hose and into your throat to open your airways. Although this treatment is effective, many patients give up on it because they find the mask uncomfortable or obstructive.
- Breathing Patches
A new alternative to CPAP is a small disposable patch fitting over the nostrils called Provent. It works especially well for those sleep apnea patients who breathe through their nose at night. Two small plugs are attached to the patch, allowing for small amounts of air pressure to get into your airways and keep them open while you sleep. This new treatment for sleep apnea can be expensive and has not proven effective for everyone, but for many, it serves as a welcome alternative to CPAP.
Doctors often only resort to sleep apnea surgery when other treatments have failed. Sleep apnea surgeries may include tissue removal, jaw repositioning, soft palate implants, or in life-threatening cases, a tracheostomy or creation of a new airway.
Depending on the symptoms of each specific case, sleep apnea may begin with lifestyle changes and end in surgery. If you believe you have sleep apnea and would like to seek treatment, call to schedule a consultation with our sleep apnea dentist.
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