What are the obstructive sleep apnea treatment options?

There are a few obstructive sleep apnea treatment options that I would like to write about today and share my personal experience and opinion.

#1 The first of the obstructive sleep apnea treatment options is Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). CPAP is a machine that delivers air pressure through a mask. This is what I used to treat my own sleep apnea. I have a CPAP machine and I sleep with it every night and I love it.

CPAP machines provide you with air pressure to keep your upper airway passages open, preventing apnea and snoring. There are various types of CPAP masks and the correct CPAP mask is the key to getting a good night sleep with a CPAP machine. Some CPAP masks cover both your nose and mouth. Some CPAP masks only cover your nose and other CPAP masks only cover your mouth.

When I first got my CPAP machine I had a full face mask to cover both my mouth and my nose. But over time I tried different CPAP masks and settled on one that only covered my mouth and had another piece that is inserted below my nostrils. I found this type of CPAP mask to be much more comfortable than a full face mask, it’s less obtrusive and easier to sleep with.

Although CPAP is the most common method of treating sleep apnea, some people find do find it uncomfortable. Some people give up on CPAP, but with some practice, most people can learn to adjust the tension of the straps to obtain a comfortable fit.

obstructive sleep apnea treatment options

obstructive sleep apnea treatment options

#2 The second obstructive sleep apnea treatment options are the other airway pressure devices that are an alternative to CPAP. One is called Auto-CPAP (APAP). Another alternative to CPAP is called bi-level positive airway pressure (BiPAP). Also Expiratory positive airway pressure (EPAP). These alternative sleep apnea machines provide obstructive sleep apnea treatment options that give different amounts of pressure when you inhale vs. when you exhale. Each of these sleep apnea treatment machines is a little different and one of them may be easier for you to use than CPAP and help comply with your obstructive sleep apnea treatment.

I personally have no experience with APAP, BiPAP or EPAP. I have only tried CPAP and the CPAP option has worked well for me as my obstructive sleep apnea treatment option.

#3 The third obstructive sleep apnea treatment options are Oral appliances. Sleep apnea oral appliance are designed to keep your throat open and may be easier to use than CPAP. Some Sleep apnea oral appliances are designed to open your throat by bringing your jaw forward, which has been known to relieve snoring and mild obstructive sleep apnea.

Oral appliances for the treatment of sleep apnea continue to increase in popularity and can be an effective first line treatment for many sleep apnea sufferers.  These devices are usually available from your dentist and just like with CPAP you may need to try different devices before finding one that works best for you.

I have personally never tried a sleep apnea oral appliance and my primary doctor never recommended this to me or mentioned it. The more that I write this sleep apnea blog the more I learn about sleep apnea. Then next time that I go to the dentist I am going to ask the dentist about sleep apnea oral devices and see if he knows anything about this and if he offers any options.

#4 The fourth obstructive sleep apnea treatment options are lifestyle changes, such as losing weight or quitting smoking. These options are for milder cases of sleep apnea, and need to be discussed with your doctor, after getting the results of your sleep study. For me personally this is something that my doctor recommended for me after the results of my sleep study. I was lighter than I am now and he suggested that if I lose some weight it may help with my sleep apnea. Unfortunately over the years I’ve gained additional weight and I never was able to try this solution to see if it works.

#5 The fifth obstructive sleep apnea treatment options are surgery. Surgery for sleep apnea is usually only an option after other obstructive sleep apnea treatments have failed. The goal of surgery for sleep apnea is to enlarge the airway through your nose or throat that may be blocking your upper air passages and causing sleep apnea. There are a few different types of surgery options available for sleep apnea you would need to speak with your doctor to see which sleep apnea surgery option makes sense for you.

Personally I looked into the sleep apnea surgery, a little bit, but everyone I talked to told me that it’s an extremely invasive surgery. It’s been described to me as almost barbaric they need to cut out part of your throat to make your passageway bigger. I was told that the pain related to the surgery is tremendous and that it takes months of painful recovery. And I have been told there is no guarantee that the sleep apnea surgery will work.  However I never researched this with a surgeon to find out exactly what is involved. Since I have little trouble complying with the CPAP machine therapy I never looked too far into the surgery. And the fact that the surgery was described to me as barbaric by some people turned me off to it.

Overall from my personal experiences I recommend CPAP as the best treatment option. If you’ve given up on sleep apnea machines in the past because of discomfort, you owe it to yourself to give them a second look. CPAP technology is constantly being updated and improved, and the new CPAP devices are lighter, quieter, and more comfortable.

If you snore or believe you have sleep apnea, contact your Primary Care Physician (PCP) to help schedule a sleep study to determine if you do have OSA.