How to Treat Sleep Apnea?

How to Treat Sleep Apnea?

Do you get headaches in the mornings? Do you wake up with a dry and sore throat? You might be showing signs of sleep apnea! Uncontrolled sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure and heart diseases. There are various ways to treat sleep apnea. What are they? Read on…

Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person suffers from shallow and interrupted breaths while sleeping. There are 2 types of sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs due to the compression of the muscle present in the back of the throat. Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain doesn’t send signals to the muscle that controls breathing.

Treatment for sleep apnea

To treat mild cases of sleep apnea, the doctor will recommend lifestyle changes such as losing weight, avoiding alcohol, quitting smoking etc. When the condition doesn’t improve, the doctor can recommend the following treatments.

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP): CPAP is a treatment in which a mask is placed over the nose or mouth while sleeping. This mask is attached to a machine. The machine will deliver a continuous air supply to the nose. This will keep the airways open during sleep.

Bilevel positive airway pressure (BPAP): Bilevel positive airway pressure is same as CPAP but BPAP provides more pressure while inhaling and less pressure while exhaling.

Expiratory positive airway pressure (EPAP): EPAP are single-use devices which are placed over the nostrils before going to sleep. The device is in the form of valve. This valve will allow air to move freely; while you exhale air must leave out through small holes in the valve. This will keep the airway open. The device helps in reducing snoring and makes a person feel less drowsy in the daytime.

Oral appliances: Oral appliances can be used to keep the throat open. Some oral appliances are designed in such a way that they keep the throat open by bringing the jaw forward. This can reduce snoring and mild obstructive sleep apnea.

When the above treatments fail, the doctor will suggest surgery. Usually a 3-month trial of other treatment options is suggested, before going for the surgery. When a person has jaw structure problems, surgery is the first option.

The surgeries performed to treat sleep apnea are as follows:

  • Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP): In UPPP, the doctor will remove the tissue from the rear of the mouth and top of the throat. The doctor will remove tonsils and adenoids also. This will prevent the throat structures from vibrating. This will reduce snoring.
  • Maxillomandibular advancement: In this procedure, the jaw is moved forward. This will in turn enlarge the space between the tongue and soft palate.
  • Implants: The person is given local anaesthesia and plastic rods are implanted into the soft palate. This procedure is performed on the people who can’t tolerate CPAP.
  • Tracheostomy: Tracheostomy is a surgical procedure in which the surgeon will create an opening in the trachea. Then he will place a plastic or metal tube through which the person can breathe. This tube is shut during the day while at night it is kept open to allow air to pass in and out of the lungs. It bypasses the air blockage in the trachea.

As time passes, people suffering from sleep apnea can develop high blood pressure. High blood pressure can lead to diabetes. Hence treating sleep apnea will lower the risk of diabetes. If you suffer from any of the symptoms of sleep apnea, consult a family practice doctor online at eVaidya now!


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