Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Incidence Risk Factors Symptoms Evaluation Treatment CPAP and BIPAP questions for doctor specialist Home Care taking control warning signs Outlook Complications Underlying Cause Types

Apnea During Sleep Treatment

Treatment for sleep apnea depends on the underlying type and the severity of the symptoms. Mild sleep apnea may be treated with only lifestyle changes, weight loss and stopping smoking. More serious sleep apnea may be treated with a positive pressure breathing mask (CPAP machine) that keeps the upper airway open.

Treatment options for sleep apnea include:

  • Weight loss if you are overweight
  • Oral appliance therapy:
    • A device in the mouth that holds the airway open during sleep.
  • Oxygen therapy for sleep apnea
  • Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) for sleep apnea:
    • A small nasal mask is used to deliver pressurized air through the obstructed airway.
    • The pressure remains constant.
  • Bi-level positive airway pressure (BiPAP) for sleep apnea:
    • A small nasal mask is used to deliver pressurized air through the obstructed airway.
    • The pressure varies during inspiration and expiration.
  • Adaptive servo-ventilation (ASV)
    • An airflow device learns your normal breathing pattern and stores the information in a computer.
    • Used for central sleep apnea
  • Medications for sleep apnea may include:
  • Medication for daytime sleepiness in those with sleep apnea:
  • Oxygen therapy:
    • For central sleep apnea
  • Surgery for sleep apnea:
    • Useful when other modalities fail
    • Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP): a procedure that removes tissue from the back of the mouth and top of the throat.
    • Maxillomandibular advancement: the jaw is moved forward to enlarge the space behind the tongue and soft palate
    • Tracheostomy: a surgical opening in the neck where a plastic tube allows you to breathe

Apnea During Sleep CPAP and BIPAP

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) effectively reduces symptoms in about 80% of those with obstructive sleep apnea. During continuous positive airway pressure, a nasal mask forms a tight seal against the skin around the nose, and pressurized oxygen is delivered through the nasal mask. The air pressure helps prop open the upper airway, which reduces the chance of structures blocking the airway.

Bi-level positive airway pressure (BIPAP) may also be used to treat sleep apnea. Bi-level positive airway pressure is similar to continuous positive airway pressure, except that the pressure delivered through the mask varies according to the patient's breathing pattern.

Apnea During Sleep Questions For Doctor

The following are some important questions to ask before and after the treatment of sleep apnea.

Questions to ask before treatment:

  • What are my treatment options?
    • Is surgery an option for me?
  • What are the risks associated with treatment?
  • Do I need to stay in the hospital?
    • How long will I be in the hospital?
  • What are the complications I should watch for?
  • How long will I require treatment?

Questions to ask after treatment:
  • Do I need to change my diet?
  • Are there any medications or supplements I should avoid?
  • Do I need a special exercise program?
  • What else can I do to reduce my risk for complications?
  • How often will I need to see my doctor for checkups?
  • What local support and other resources are available?

Apnea During Sleep Specialist

Physicians from the following specialties evaluate and treat sleep apnea:

Continue to Apnea During Sleep Home Care

Last Updated: Jun 14, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Apnea During Sleep References
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  5. Li KK. Surgical therapy for obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. Semin Respir Crit Care Med. 2005 Feb;26(1):80-8. [16052420]
  6. Norman D, Loredo JS. Obstructive sleep apnea in older adults. Clin Geriatr Med. 2008 Feb;24(1):151-65, ix. [18035238]
  7. Wieber SJ. The cardiac consequences of the obstructive sleep apnea-hypopnea syndrome. Mt Sinai J Med. 2005 Jan;72(1):10-2. [15682256]
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