Sleep apnea is a disorder that affects people while sleeping. Their breathing is interrupted, which can cause them to stop breathing altogether at times. In the case of more serious sleep apnea, this process happens hundreds of times in a night, causing the brain and the entire body to not receive enough oxygen. There are two kinds of sleep apnea: Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and Central Sleep Apnea (CSA). The first is more common and is caused by a blocked airway. Soft tissue on the back of the patient's throat will collapse during sleep, which causes the blockage. CSA is entirely different; the brain fails to signal the muscles to continue breathing while it's asleep. This is a result of instability in the respiratory control center and has nothing to do with a blocked airway. Depending on your sleep apnea condition and the severity of your symptoms, your doctor can recommend different therapies and surgeries to help you deal with sleep apnea. Here are ten treatments for sleep apnea.

Lifestyle Changes

If you have a mild case of sleep apnea, you may not need medical treatment; simple lifestyle changes can do the trick. It might seem difficult at first to change everyday habits like reducing your smoking and eating healthier foods, however, your physician can explain the benefits of making these decisions. Even if you try to quit and succumb to temptation, you should never give up. Continue to set daily, weekly, and monthly goals towards healthier living. After succeeding for a few days, you will already notice positive outcomes regarding your health and happiness. If you can keep it up for weeks into months and years, then your body will rid itself of other ailments and stresses in addition to a mild sleeping disorder.


Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)

This method deals with the application of a breathing machine. Patients with moderate to severe sleep apnea wear a mask over the nose, which delivers air pressure during sleep. It produces just enough air to keep your airway passage open because the pressure is slightly greater than the surrounding air. Although it might be a little uncomfortable, the machine is the most common form of treating sleep apnea caused by OSA. After a while, you should adjust to the mask. A humidifier will help prevent sleep apnea, too. You should stop snoring after using CPAP (pronounced see-PAP). If you change weight, you probably have to modify the settings of the machine. If you still suffer from symptoms of sleep apnea, you need to consult with your physician about modifications to your treatment.


Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure (BiPAP)

If you want to stick with something similar to CPAP, but it is not helping, there are still options. Your doctor might recommend C-Flex with CPAP, which is a good choice if you need a little pressure relief. However, C-Flex relieves patients with an additional three centimeters whereas BiPAP's starting level is already four centimeters. The BiPAP machine is better if you suffer from high-pressure issues or low oxygen levels. It provides you with more pressure inhaling and less exhaling. If you suffer from a cardiopulmonary disorder like congestive heart failure, lung disorders, or particular neuromuscular disorders, then BiPAP might be more beneficial than CPAP (even with the addition of C-Flex).


Expiratory Positive Airway Pressure (EPAP)

Instead of using a breathing mask, patients seeking a sleep apnea treatment can use small devices over each nostril. You position the one-time use products before you go to sleep. A valve allows you to inhale freely, but as you exhale, the air travels through tiny holes in the device, which increase pressure and holds the pathway open. If you suffer from mild obstructive sleep apnea, an EPAP is a treatment that will not only reduce snoring but also help with daytime drowsiness. Wearing an EPAP mask as a breathing treatment is not for everyone, so talk to your doctor about other options.


Adaptive Servo-Ventilation (ASV)

If you are looking for a more scientific way to treat sleep apnea, you should ask your physician about ASV. This innovative airflow device allows the machine to learn your breath patterns and store the information in the built-in computer. During sleep, ASV will utilize the information to normalize the pressure of your breathing and prevent pauses. It is a very successful positive airway pressure application, especially compared to others. It can treat both Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and Central Sleep Apnea (CSA). You can discuss this option with your family medical provider as it can treat complex sleep apnea symptoms too.


Oral Appliances

Besides wearing a mask, patients with sleep apnea can use an oral appliance to ensure the throat will stay open during sleep. Even though the application of a CPAP mask is more reliable and effective, oral appliances might be easier and more natural to wear. Some work by bringing the jaw forward to keep the throat open; it helps with snoring and other mild symptoms of sleep apnea. Not only will you have to discuss the treatment with your physician, but you need to talk to your dentist. Just like the mask, you might have to go through a trial and error process until you find the ideal fit. You can schedule regular follow-ups for at least a year to assess your symptoms.


Tissue Removal

If all of the non-surgical treatments for sleep apnea failed after three months of experimenting, you could consider surgery. This medical procedure is called uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, but it mainly removes tissues from the rear of the mouth and top of the throat. The surgeon also removes both of your tonsils and adenoids. This method is less efficient than wearing a CPAP mask, but it is successful in stopping vibrations from throat structures, which is a direct cause of snoring. Honestly, your doctor will not recommend this treatment initially unless your jaw structure deems it worthy. Radiofrequency energy (ablation) can also remove the tissues if you cannot stand using a mask or oral appliances to treat your sleep apnea.


Jaw Repositioning and Implants

The jaw plays a factor in developing sleeping disorders and breathing problems. This surgical procedure moves the jaw forward away from the facial bones. Therefore, it creates a larger space behind the soft palate and tongue, creating less of an obstruction. Jaw repositioning, known as maxillomandibular advancement, can be beneficial if you suffer from symptoms of sleep apnea. Implants can also be useful. Plastic rods referred to as implants are surgically embedded into your soft palate. Because it is surgery, it requires a local anesthetic. Both procedures must be discussed with your doctor and planned out carefully.


Creating a New Airway

Medically known as tracheostomy, creating a new passageway is a serious surgery. If you suffer from severe sleep apnea, then chances are good you have already tried CPAP masks, BiPAP, oral appliances, and are still victim to sleep apnea complications. If you're considering such a dramatic procedure, it's because you've probably tried other surgeries to no avail. However, if you have life-threatening sleep apnea, the problem will pursuit and tracheostomy might be the last resort. A surgeon will insert a tube through your neck, which will allow you to breathe, and live. During the daytime, you can cover the hole, but at night it is okay to uncover it' air will pass through your lungs and miss the blocked airway in the throat.


Other Surgeries

Just as you can make lifestyle changes to help combat sleep apnea, the more you target health problems, the better you can simultaneously correct the sleeping disorder. For example, Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) is usually caused by problems associated with heart or neuromuscular disorders. Therefore, if you optimize therapy for heart failure, you can equally eliminate sleep apnea. Although using oxygen is a simple fix for patients who suffer from sleep apnea due to other illnesses, you can also have surgery. Removing the polyps or straightening a crooked partition between your nostrils is a nasal surgery that can prevent snoring. Taking out enlarged adenoids or tonsils will also help as well as weight-loss surgery. The primary goal of any surgery related to sleep apnea is to clear the air pathway.


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