Once a diagnosis is made, treatment options depend on what is found to be the cause of the blockage, as well as the severity of the sleep apnea. Lifestyle changes, such as losing weight and treating allergies, positional changes during sleep (trying to sleep on your side) are important considerations. Other treatment options include wearing a dental appliance and surgery. Most doctors use CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) treatment before surgery. CPAP has a high rate of success when tolerated. The machine delivers a constant pressurized stream of air through a face mask worn while you sleep. The long-term results of CPAP include improved quality of sleep and fewer disruptions in breathing.
Sleep apnea may be treated with either surgical or non-surgical techniques, depending on the underlying cause of the problem and the preference of the patient. Some patients find relief with simple behavioral changes. Other patients may need to turn to surgical procedures to find restful sleep.
CPAP machines are very effective in producing healthier sleep patterns and decreasing the harmful consequences of sleep apnea. Unfortunately, some patients do not tolerate them well. They may find the machines uncomfortable or intrusive, and some people find it difficult to use the CPAP machines correctly. Even though the CPAP device is the most effective non-surgical solution for obstructive sleep apnea, it will not work if the patient cannot tolerate it and therefore does not use it. In this case, surgery may be the next recommended step.
Some patients opt for surgery very quickly when more conservative methods are not effective for them. Others may use a CPAP device for as long as a couple of years and then decide that they would prefer an alternative solution that surgery can offer. There are no standard time tables for the rate at which patients should move from one option to another as they seek an effective solution.
This content was originally published here.