There are several options for treating snoring and sleep apnea. Treatment
most always is aimed at eliminating the cause of the blockage of breathing.
Treatment choices range from simple to complex. Following is a brief discussion
of treatment options including pros and cons of each treatment.
In many cases a CPAP (continuous positive air pressure) machine is used
to treat sleep problems. CPAP is a shoebox-sized compressor that pumps
air through the nose and down the throat splinting the tongue forward
to open the airway. It is considered the "gold standard" for
treatment of sleep apnea, because it can be 100% effective. However, most
patients find the apparatus uncomfortable to wear while sleeping. People
who won't wear CPAP are called CPAP intolerant. Nonetheless, CPAP
can be the treatment of choice, especially for those diagnosed with severe
Pro: a very effective treatment.
Con: uncomfortable, not "sexy", difficult to travel with.
Surgery is available to correct snoring and sleep apnea. Many of the surgery
options widen the airway by removing tissue from the back of the throat.
The surgery is invasive, can be painful, and there are risks of adverse
side effects. However, removal of the tonsils and adenoids is often the
easiest treatment and effective treatment for children with sleep apnea.
Also available is the use of radio-frequency to shrink tissue. These procedures
were once common, but have fallen out of favor. Another surgical option
is to advance the upper and lower jaws to open the airway. This is among
the best options for treating sleep apnea; but it is also a very invasive
procedure. The airway can be constrained by the upper and lower jaws.
By surgically moving the upper and lower jaw forward the entire airway
can be enlarged, hence treating sleep apnea. This procedure is usually
performed on patients with moderate to severe sleep apnea when other treatment
options have failed. Sometimes this surgery can provide cosmetic benefits
as well as solving sleep issues.
Pro: can be an excellent option for children and young adults. Jaw advancement
surgery is very effective.
Con: other than jaw advancement surgery, surgeries of the throat for sleep
apnea can often require retreatment. Pain and adverse effects can be problems.
UPPP and radio-frequency surgery have fallen out of favor.
Oral Appliance Therapy
Oral appliance therapy (OAT) is a comfortable treatment choice for many
sleep disorders. It is recommended for simple snoring, mild to moderate
sleep apnea, and for CPAP intolerant patients. These appliances typically
work by advancing the jaw, thereby keeping the tongue from blocking the
airway. They also work by tightening the throat muscles causing the throat
to be more open so you can breathe better. These devices are similar to
athletic mouthpieces and orthodontic retainers. Oral appliances are generally
quite effective and are well tolerated by the patient. Each FDA approved
appliance is custom manufactured and fit comfortably to effectively treat
snoring and sleep apnea. These appliances should be fitted and adjusted
by a trained dentist; hence we do not recommend appliances sold on TV
or over the internet.
Pro: Effective for mild to moderate sleep apnea, those who are CPAP intolerant,
and Easy To Use
Con: can cause jaw pain and/or minor tooth movement.
Orthodontics can be another treatment option, and is especially useful
with children with sleep apnea. In addition to straightening teeth, orthodontics
can be used to "widen" the jaws opening the airway.
Pro: best used in children when indicated.
Many patients with sleep apnea are overweight. Losing extra pounds can
and does help with snoring and sleep apnea. Besides helping eliminate
sleep issues, weight loss has many other beneficial health effects. Weight
loss is always encouraged!
Pro: very beneficial.
Alcohol and drugs can exaggerate sleep problems. Their use should be moderated
or eliminated. Sleep aids seen on TV and on the internet have been shown
by research to be mostly ineffective and are not encouraged. However,
Orange County Snoring and Sleep Center promotes good sleep habits such
as sleeping in a dark, quiet room, with a comfortable bed. We also endorse
a regular sleep schedule with adequate hours of sleep.
For more detailed information about treatment options see:
Orange County Snoring Ctr
Relief from Snoring & Sleep Apnea.
Help is a Phone Call Away. Brea.