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Treatment Options for Adults With Obstructive Sleep Apnea

There are different treatment options for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Which option is right for you depend upon the severity of your sleep apnea, the physical structure of your upper airway, and other aspects of your medical history. The various options are listed below please don’t hesitate call today with any questions you might have 1.888.345.1780.

When thinking about treatment options, remember that with an obstructive apnea, there are physical blockages or obstructions in the airway during sleep. In OSA, obstructions occur during sleep but not during waking hours partly because all muscles, including the muscles in the airway, relax during sleep. Obstructions that cause breathing to stop completely for at least ten seconds are termed apneas. When breathing is substantially reduced for at least ten seconds, it is a hypopnea. Frequent apneas and hypopneas lead to numerous brief awakenings during sleep and to sleepiness during waking hours. Preventing apneas and hypopneas prevents the sleep fragmentation, so treatment reduces the sleepiness. (For simplicity, here "apneas" include hypopneas as well. For more on OSA, read the American Sleep Apnea Association brochure "Get the Facts about Sleep Apnea.") All treatment options are intended to prevent obstructions by widening the airway. Keep in mind the precise cause of obstruction is usually difficult to find, and many people have obstructions in more than place.

Positional therapy:

Apneas tend to be worse when sleeping on the back (the supine position) as gravity makes it more likely for the tongue to fall back over the airway and/or for the airway muscles and other tissue (like the tonsils) to collapse and block the airway. Hence not sleeping on the back may reduce the number of apneas. To avoid the supine position, some people use homemade remedies, such as putting tennis balls in a tube sock and pinning the sock to the back of the nightshirt. Others purchase products such as a tube or cushion designed specifically to prevent supine sleeping. A number of companies have registered with the FDA pillows for snoring and mild sleep apnea; it is meant to position the neck so the airway is more likely to remain open. Positional alarms are also on the market: they are intended to prevent supine sleeping by making a noise when one begins to sleep on the back. However, they may disrupt sleep so much that the subsequent sleep fragmentation causes a concern.

Weight loss:

Sleep apnea can be weight-related. Additional fat around the neck may make the airway narrower, making obstructions more likely to occur. For some overweight people, especially those with mild cases, losing weight can be an effective treatment. Or weight loss may reduce the severity of the sleep apnea. However, it may be hard to lose weight when you have untreated sleep apnea: you may be too tired to exercise and you may eat to stay awake. Also, it may take some time before the weight loss is achieved, so in light of the potential consequences of untreated OSA, using another treatment option while working towards the weight loss goal may be an option. Losing weight may also improve your health in other ways, but it is always advisable to talk to your doctor before beginning a weight-loss program.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP):

CPAP works by gently blowing pressurized room air through the airway at a pressure high enough to keep the throat open. This pressurized air acts as a "splint." The pressure is set according to the patient's needs at a level that eliminates the apneas and hypopneas that cause awakenings and sleep fragmentation. Pressure that is too low will not be as effective in eliminating the apneas and hypopneas.

CPAP is the most effective method for treating obstructive sleep apnea. It can sometimes be hard to use, but any complaints about the comfort of the machine or mask can usually be addressed easily. Call Aeroflow today to discuss any discomfort you may have or hesitation regarding with Sleep Apnea Treatment.

The type of treatment that you use is not as important as being properly treated for OSA by professionals at Aeroflow Industrial Clinics.