Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) can be treated in many different ways. The following treatments are recommended to most patients:
Losing weight is one big recommendation since over 70% of OSA patients are overweight. Although there are few studies that have proven that weight loss is an effective treatment for OSA, it may lead to less snoring and reduces amounts of apnea occurrences as doctors have noted over time. Sometimes weight loss medications are prescribed to help patients with weight loss.
Congestion has been linked to OSA. Taking medications that help with congestion, especially in the nasal cavity, may decrease OSA. If this doesn’t help, a surgical procedure can be used to decrease the amount of snoring by increasing airflow.
Positioning Treatment could be recommended to those who tend to snore more in certain positions. There is therapy available that can help those who tend to snore more when lying in certain positions by teaching them to change the positions in which they sleep. This is done by usually placing an item in or on pajamas to keep that person from turning over or lying on their back. Although this usually works on those with light OSA, it may not help those that suffer snoring when their airway collapses.
Surgery may be recommended to adults with OSA, although it has a chance of not helping. It is difficult to determine what is causing the snoring since there are many conditions that cause OSA. Otherwise, uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) may be done, however it only has a 50% chance of helping, although some doctors have a higher success with this type of surgery. In any case, reevaluation of OSA is recommended between surgeries.
Surgery for children may also be recommended due to most children with OSA having larger-than-normal tonsils, adenoids, or both enlarged tonsils and adenoids, in which over 70% of OSA patients are cured. This high success rate means that this is what is usually recommended as the first treatment of OSA in children.
Mouth guards can be used to treat OSA as well. They help by moving the lower jaw away from the normal resting place during sleep, which can majorly improve OSA. Although this may work for some, it may not work for all patients. For some, the slight change is sufficient. As with surgery, it is recommended to have your OSA reevaluated after getting the mouth guard and using it for a determined amount of time.
Breathing masks can also help OSA patients to keep an open airway. These masks are called Airway Pressure Apparatuses (APA). Patients who have medium or heavy OSA usually get this treatment since it is commonly used. The APA is used much like an oxygen mask, but fits more snugly to create a pressured airflow. This pressure reduces the likeliness of the airway folding. Those who use this type of treatment usually have lessened OSA and tend to sleep better. Provent may also be used, which is a treatment that does not require electricity to keep the patient breathing correctly during sleep. Although PAP machines have other uses, it has been proven to help OSA patients.
Other types of treatments include staying away from alcohol, especially before the patient goes to bed. Pacemakers have also shown a promise in treating OSA patients, although this treatment is not used normally since it is still being studied. Other alternative treatments are being used including playing wind instruments and getting acupuncture.
As a caution, symptoms of OSA, such as snoring, can be a telltale sign of OSA. Treating snoring could reduce the warning signs of OSA, so OSA reevaluation is essential. OSA can cause issues with the patient being treated with pain medications and anesthesia. Those who give this medication should check for OSA before prescribing. If a patient is expected to have OSA, a sleep study should be done. Certain steps should be made for those with diagnosed OSA.