The goal of obstructive sleep apnea treatment is to maintain an open airway during sleep. Effectve treatment will eliminate the symptoms of sleep disturbance, and long-term health consequences are also reduced. Most treatments require nightly use.
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is a widely accepted treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. This consists of using a bedside device that delivers pressurized air through a small mask or nasal pillow system. CPAP should be used any time the person sleeps (day or night). Continued follow up with the CPAP supplier and health care provider helps to ensure that the treatment is effective and comfortable. Changes in treatment may be needed if the person gains or loses weight, or if symptoms do not improve.
Surgical treatment. Surgical procedures can reshape structures in the upper airways or surgically reposition the facial bones. Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) is one of the most commonly performed surgical procedures; it removes the uvula and excessive tissue in the throat, including the tonsils, if present. Talk to your health care provider to see if this is an option for you.
Dental devices. A dental device, called an oral appliance or mandibular advancement device, can reposition the jaw (mandible) bringing the tongue and soft palate forward as well. This may relieve obstruction in mild cases of OSA for some people.
Nasal valves. Valves that retard expiratory flow can be inserted into each nostril during sleep. This raises the air pressure in the throat and may decrease airway narrowing. This treatment is attractive for travel and camping, and for patients who are unable to tolerate CPAP. Nasal valves are best used for mild cases of OSA.
Weight loss. Weight loss may be helpful for overweight patients. Weight loss may be accomplished with dietary changes, exercise and /or surgical treatment.
Adjust sleep position. Adjusting sleep position (to stay off the back) may help improve sleep quality in people who have OSA while sleeping on their back.
Avoid alcohol and other sedatives. Alcohol can worsen sleepiness, potentially increasing the risk of accidents or injuries. People with OSA are often counseled to drink little to no alcohol, even during the daytime. People who take anti-anxiety medications or sedatives to sleep should speak with their health care provider about the safety of these medications.
People with OSA must notify all health care providers, including surgeons, about their condition. People with OSA who are given anesthesia and or/pain medications require close monitoring in the hospital.