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Casper WY Sleep Apnea Treatment Options Explained

CONTINUOUS POSITIVE AIRWAY PRESSURE DEVICE

Positive airway pressure machines, used with a variety of breathing masks, are the most widely used treatment for moderate and severe sleep apnea.

The mask, worn during sleep, fits snugly over the nose or sometimes nose and mouth, and supplies pressurized air that flows continuously or intermittently into the sleeper’s throat. The increased air pressure prevents the sleeper’s airway from collapsing.

The pressurized air is supplied through a flexible tube from one of several types of machines: CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure), BiPAP (bilevel positive airway pressure), VPAP (variable positive airway pressure), and so on. Studies of the effect of PAP therapy show that people with sleep apnea who consistently use their machines feel better and, as a result of the reduction of apnea and hypopnea episodes during sleep, encounter fewer complications of the disease. Although PAP devices are not used to treat snoring alone, they do eliminate snoring in addition to treating obstructive sleep apnea.

ORAL APPLIANCES

Oral appliances for the treatment of sleep apnea continue to increase in popularity as awareness grows amongst the public that oral appliances are an effective first line treatment for many sleep apnea sufferers. Over 100 different oral appliances are FDA approved for the treatment of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. These appliances are worn in the mouth, just like a sports mouth guard or an orthodontic appliance, while you sleep. Oral appliances hold the lower jaw forward just enough to keep the airway open and prevent the tongue and muscles in the upper airway from collapsing and blocking the airway.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) has approved oral appliance therapy (OAT) as a first line treatment for patients diagnosed with mild to moderate OSA. The AASM also recommends oral appliances for patients with severe OSA, who are unable to tolerate or cannot wear CPAP devices. Another option for people with severe OSA is combination therapy (wearing CPAP and an oral appliance together) to help reduce the pressure on a CPAP machine, making it more comfortable to use.

LIFESTYLE CHANGES

About 70 percent of people with obstructive sleep apnea are overweight or obese. Their health care professionals usually encourage them to lose weight.

Surprisingly, there have been few formal studies of how effectively weight loss leads to lesser, lighter snoring and diminished incidents of apnea and hypopnea during sleep. Despite this, practitioners anecdotally report striking improvements in both OSA and snoring among patients who lose weight.

In some situations, a physician may wish to prescribe weight loss medications to an overweight or obese patient with OSA.

Abstinence from alcohol before bedtime is an important part of treating sleep apnea.

In one study, several persons who received cardiac pacemakers were reported to have shown an improvement in their sleep apnea. Nevertheless, no major organizations have endorsed this type of treatment and further studies are underway.

SURGERY

While surgery is often successful in treating snoring,  it is less effective in treating obstructive sleep apnea.

The challenge confronting surgeons is how to determine which part of the airway is causing the obstruction to airflow.  There are many possible sites, and conventional sleep testing does not identify the area the surgeon should modify. If the surgeon does not treat the proper site in the airway, or if there are multiple sites of obstruction, it is unlikely that the sleep apnea will diminish to a degree that eliminates the need for other treatment.

Given that several sites of airway obstruction may exist, there are several types of operations currently used to treat sleep apnea. The most common is uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, or UPPP. The success rate of this operation is about 50 percent. Some surgeons have achieved very high success rates using multiple, staged operations. Nonetheless, most authorities recommend routine re-assessment for sleep apnea after surgery.   There’s more about surgery here.

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130 N Ash St #202,
Casper, WY 82601

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