How Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea Treated?

Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition in which the muscles around the tongue and in the throat relax and block the airway while a person sleeps. This can cause breathing to stop numerous times while a person is sleeping. Fortunately, there are ways to treat this condition so that breathing remains normal during sleep. These are some different types of treatments used for patients with obstructive sleep apnea.

CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) Machines

CPAP machines are one of the most common ways to treat obstructive sleep apnea. This type of machine consists of a mask with a nosepiece or a mouthpiece and a nosepiece. It has a long cannula tube that connects to the mask and to the machine. The CPAP machine has a motor that blows air through the tube continuously. As the machine blows continuous air pressure down the throat, this keeps the airway open, decreases snoring, and improves the quality of sleep.

Oral Devices

There are also oral devices that are used to treat obstructive sleep apnea that are not connected to a machine. One type of device is known as the mandibular advancement device. This mouthpiece is similar to the mouthguards that are worn in various sports activities. They are worn inside the mouth and made to pull the lower jaw forward so that the airway remains open during sleep.

Another type of oral device used for sleep apnea is the tongue retaining device. This device is placed in the mouth, around the tongue and it pulls the tongue forward so that the airway remains open to allow proper breathing while sleeping.

Combination Treatments

For those who need to use a CPAP machine, but are not comfortable with the level of pressure or feel of the mask on the face, a special combination of oral devices can be customized for them. This usually involves making a custom-fitted mandibular advancement mouthpiece that connects to the tubing which is also connected to a CPAP machine. Often, this device keeps the airway open while allowing the machine to remain turned to a lower air pressure setting which makes it more comfortable for the patient. 

Determining which type of treatment is best depends on each individual patient. Those who have severe levels of obstructive sleep apnea normally need to use a CPAP machine for treatment. However, for mild to moderate cases, it is possible for oral devices to work very well at treating this condition so the patient can get healthier, more restful sleep.

If you suffer from sleep apnea, understand your options. Consider the different treatment solutions and contact a specialist to help.