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Sleep Apnea Treatments and Solutions

Positive Airway Pressure

When it comes to treating sleep apnea, there are a number of devices that one can use. For moderate to severe sleep apnea, positive airway pressure machines are a common method of treatment. These devices are attached to breathing masks via a flexible tube. The machine and mask provide the user with a pressurized flow of air that keeps their air pathways open as they sleep. These devices are used to treat obstructive sleep apnea in addition to snoring. Benefits of these machines are best noted following consistent use. While there are a number of different types of positive air pressure machines, the most common include continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), automatic positive airway pressure (APAP), bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP), and variable positive airway pressure (VPAP) machines.

Using Oral Appliances

People who have mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea may find that oral appliances are an effective solution for their condition. Therapy using oral appliances, which is known as oral appliance therapy or OAT, is an approved first-line treatment for individuals who fall into this category. These appliances, which treat both obstructive sleep apnea and snoring, look similar to an orthodontic trainer or the mouth guards that are used in sports. These appliances are custom-fitted and work by adjusting the position of the wearer’s lower jaw or by holding their tongue forward. There is a wide range of oral appliances available, and one’s doctor can help them find the best one. In more severe cases of obstructive sleep apnea, a person’s treatment may involve both an oral appliance and a CPAP machine.

Oral Appliance Benefits

Some people choose oral appliances because they feel it has several advantages over positive airway pressure machines. This type of treatment is quieter, and the appliances are easy to clean. They are generally more comfortable, and people often get used to sleeping with them in after only a few weeks. In addition, people who travel will benefit from an oral appliance’s size and portability. Often, it can be transported in one’s carry-on bag or even a purse.

Are Boil-and-Bites as Safe as Custom Appliances?

In some cases, people may look for alternate, less expensive options as opposed to the oral appliances that are obtained from dental care providers such as Stratford dentists. These less expensive options are frequently referred to as boil-and-bite devices. They are available without a prescription online or at neighborhood drug stores. Unlike oral appliances, these are not custom-made, and often, they have not been approved for the treatment of sleep apnea. Because they are not specifically fitted to the wearer, they can cause a number of problems, such as making one’s sleep apnea worse or creating problems with the wearer’s jaw. Some people may make the mistake of believing these appliances are helping their sleep apnea because their snoring has lessened or stopped. This is an assumption that leaves one’s sleep apnea untreated and puts their health in danger. Before wearing a boil-and-bite device for snoring, one should talk to their doctor about having a sleep study to rule out sleep apnea.

Find the Right Dental Professional

Before getting an oral appliance, people should ideally find trained Stratford, CT, pediatric dentists or practitioners focusing on adults. This is important because dentists are needed to evaluate the health of the individual’s mouth, teeth, and jaw. Dentists will also make a model of one’s teeth following this exam. This model is meant to help the dentist create a custom-fitted piece.

Oral Appliance Therapy Follow-Up Appointments

People must keep all scheduled follow-up appointments once they’ve received their appliance and therapy has begun. These appointments are meant to make any adjustments if needed and to note any improvements. The dentist will also provide any maintenance advice.

Oral Appliance Types

A number of different oral appliances are available on the market. One’s dentist can determine which of the appliances is best for their patient. Mandibular advancement devices vary in fit, how they work, materials, and adjustment requirements.

Insurance Coverage

Oral appliances, despite being fitted by one’s dentist, are typically covered by one’s medical insurance. Prior to starting their oral appliance therapy, people should contact their insurance provider to confirm coverage for this specific type of treatment. Seniors may have a part of the cost reimbursed under durable medical equipment (DME) coverage. As a result, some dentists have enrolled as Medicare DME suppliers.

Upper Airway Stimulation

Despite the popularity of CPAP therapy, not everyone can use this type of therapy. People who have mild to severe obstructive sleep apnea have yet another, relatively new option in upper airway stimulation therapy, or UAS. This is a type of treatment that is implanted and works from inside the body. The system, which is controlled by a hand-held remote, is made up of a breathing sensor, a stimulation lead, and a generator. When turned on, it stimulates muscles in the wearer’s airway in an effort to keep them open and monitors breathing patterns while the user is sleeping.

Weight Loss as a Form of Sleep Apnea Therapy

Obesity or simply being overweight can be a contributing factor when it comes to obstructive sleep apnea. The presence of extra tissue in the throat can obstruct the airway while individuals are sleeping. As a result, weight loss can sometimes be an effective sleep apnea treatment. Stratford residents who are overweight may be advised by their doctors to lose weight, as some studies have shown that this can help improve symptoms of sleep apnea.

Nasal Congestion/Obstruction

Nasal obstructions such as congestion can be the cause of snoring and sleep apnea in some individuals. There are several ways to treat this problem, ranging from positional therapy to improving airflow with surgery. With positional therapy, improvements can potentially be made in mild cases of obstructive sleep apnea. This is done by preventing the individual from sleeping on their back, as this can create a blockage in their airway. To accomplish this, one may purchase a product that encourages sleeping on one’s side.

Surgery for Adults

Surgery can be an option for some adults, but it isn’t without its challenges. The difficulty that surgeons often encounter when it comes to surgery is finding the obstruction. If the surgeon is unable to identify exactly where this obstruction is, they may be unable to fully correct it. A common type of surgery for mild sleep apnea is called uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP). This is a surgery that removes excess tissue from the throat that’s blocking one’s airway. Results for this type of surgery are not guaranteed to reduce sleep apnea; it is successful in doing so up to 50 percent of the time. Often, it is more successful in resolving snoring issues, and as a result, people may still need to sleep with a CPAP machine following the surgery.

Surgery for Children

Surgical treatment to reduce sleep apnea and snoring in children differs from adults. In many cases, enlarged tonsils or adenoids interrupt or interfere with a child’s breathing as they sleep. This can cause sleep-related problems such as obstructive sleep apnea. When this happens, a tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy may help resolve the sleep apnea and/or snoring and provide them with a better quality of life.

Other Solutions

There are a number of other solutions that may be helpful in treating sleep apnea. People who drink alcohol may notice some improvement if they stop drinking at least four hours before they go to bed at night. Smokers can experience fewer episodes of sleep apnea if they quit smoking, as this is a habit that worsens the problem. People who prefer a more holistic approach may try acupuncture or even play wind instruments to aid their treatment.

Be Cautious When Treating Snores

Snoring is an annoying problem that most people want to eliminate. People who successfully treat their snoring, however, are eliminating an important warning sign of sleep apnea. Often, snoring is one of the first signs that a person has a deeper problem and may ultimately require further testing. Before using devices to reduce snoring, people should speak with their doctor about the possibility of sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea, Anesthesia, and Pain Medications

Anesthesia and pain medications can be problematic for people with sleep apnea, particularly when it is undiagnosed. Both types of drugs cause muscles to relax and may affect one’s breathing. Physicians and anesthesiologists must take care when administering these medications to prepare for and hopefully prevent problems from arising. This care begins with taking a thorough health history, reviewing records, and performing a sleep study if necessary. They should be prepared for problems that may arise during the surgical procedures and after. In some cases, a CPAP machine may be necessary after surgery to help the patient with their breathing.

Other Sleep Apnea Resources

  • Sleep Apnea In Depth: CPAP: People who are new to CPAP therapy can learn about some of the common problems associated with them and how they can be avoided.
  • HelpGuide: Sleep Apnea: People who are learning about sleep apnea will benefit from reading this page, which outlines information such as signs and symptoms, causes, treatment options, and sleep apnea in children.
  • Sleep, Snoring, and Sleep Apnea: Uniquely Different in Women (PDF): Visit this page to learn about sleep apnea and how it differs in women versus men.
  • Patient Education: Sleep Apnea in Adults (Beyond the Basics): People diagnosed with sleep apnea can learn more about the symptoms, consequences, treatments, and diagnosis by clicking this link. The page also features graphics.
  • Sleep Apnea Information Page: This informational page on the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes website reviews a range of sleep apnea information including the definition, treatment, prognosis, clinical trials, and organizations.
  • Always Tired? You May Have Sleep Apnea: Sleep apnea often leaves people feeling tired. On this page, individuals who feel they may have sleep apnea can learn more about what it is and about treatment.
  • Myths and Facts About Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Browse through this WebMD slide show to discover what’s fact and what’s fiction when it comes to sleep apnea.
  • Sleep Apnea: Overview and Facts: Sleep apnea is a serious condition that requires treatment. People can learn about sleep apnea when they visit this page and read an overview of the condition.
  • Sleep Disorder Problems: Sleep Apnea: This National Sleep Foundation page features an overview of sleep apnea.
  • Sleep Apnea, Heart Disease, and Stroke: Sleep apnea can be associated with heart disease and stroke.
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea: On this page, site visitors can both read about obstructive sleep apnea and watch a video.
  • Sleep Apnea Facts: Because sleep apnea is a sleep-related breathing problem, it’s important to learn the facts about it for those who may live with it or know someone who does.
  • Sleep Apnea Detection: It can be frightening for parents who have a child with sleep apnea. This page lists symptoms and explains the treatments for it.
  • Sleep Apnea for Parents: Parents can visit this KidsHealth page to read about obstructive sleep apnea, including its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.
  • Central Sleep Apnea: Central sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that can be frightening for those who have it and their loved ones. Learning about this condition can help people understand and treat it.
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): Open this page to read about all aspects of OSA, including key facts.
  • Information on Sleep Apnea: Get information on sleep apnea such as the three different types, risk factors, testing, and diagnosis here.
  • What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Adults? (PDF): On this page, visitors will find a patient education sheet on obstructive sleep apnea in adults from the American Thoracic Society.
  • Sleep Apnea: Read information about sleep apnea ranging from facts to surgical treatments
  • Growth and Development: Obstructive Sleep Apnea: When a child is diagnosed with sleep apnea, their parents want to learn as much as they can. This page explains the condition in a way that parents can easily follow.

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(203) 742-1027