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 sleep apnea.
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, moderate sleep apnea, and CPAP intolerant. Relatively comfortable. Not invasive, 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 over weight. 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: medicinenet.com
Orange County Snoring Ctr
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