Obstructive sleep apnea can be effectively treated. Depending on whether your OSA is mild, moderate or severe, your doctor will select the treatment that is best for you.
Degrees Of Severity:
- Normal – less than five interruptions an hour
- Mild sleep apnoea – between 5 and 15 interruptions an hour
- Moderate sleep apnoea – between 15 and 30 interruptions an hour
- Severe sleep apnoea – over 30 interruptions an hour.
The goal is to keep the airway open so that breathing does not stop during sleep.
CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) and BiPAP (Bi-Level)
A CPAP device is an effective treatment for patients with moderate OSA and the first-line treatment for those diagnosed with severe sleep apnea. Through a specially fitted mask that fits over the patient’s nose, the CPAP’s constant, prescribed flow of pressured air prevents the airway or throat from collapsing. In some cases a BiPAP device, which blows air at two different pressures, may be used.
While CPAP and BiPAP devices keep the throat open and prevent snoring and interruptions in breathing, they only treat your condition and do not cure it. If you stop using the CPAP or BiPAP, your symptoms will return.
If you are diagnosed with mild sleep apnea, your doctor may suggest you employ the non-medical treatments recommended to reduce snoring: weight loss; avoiding alcohol, caffeine and heavy meals within two hours of bedtime; no sedatives; and a change of sleeping positions. In mild cases, these practical interventions may improve or even cure snoring and sleep apnea.
If you have mild to moderate sleep apnea, or are unable to use CPAP, recent studies have shown that an oral appliance can be an effective first-line therapy. The oral appliance is a molded device that is placed in the mouth at night to hold the lower jaw and bring the tongue forward. By bringing the jaw forward, the appliance elevates the soft palate or retains the tongue to keep it from falling back in the airway and blocking breathing. Although not as effective as the continuous positive airway pressure (C-PAP) systems, oral appliances are indicated for use in patients with mild to moderate OSA who prefer oral appliances, who do not respond to CPAP, are not appropriate candidates for C-PAP, or who fail treatment attempts with CPAP or behavioral changes.
Another method of treating sleep apnea – a fairly new surgical procedure, called uvulopalatopharyngoplasty.