Options for Treating Sleep Apnea

Snoring man and young woman. Couple sleeping in bed.

Sleep apnea is a serious disorder with ties to even more serious ones, like diabetes and heart disease. You should see a doctor if you snore excessively, wake up multiple times per night, or experience daytime headaches or fatigue.

Once seen, you will be given a shortlist of options. The first one is typically a lifestyle change such as weight loss, as a high degree of sleep apnea sufferers are obese. Quitting smoking and/or drinking may also help.

The next step would probably be CPAP treatment. CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure, which is provided by a mask you wear while sleeping. The mask connects to a machine that prevents airways from closing, and lowers both nighttime and daytime blood pressure.

Refusal or failure of CPAP may lead to a sleep therapy system like Winx, which enlarges the upper airway while allowing you to change positions while asleep. The very obese may not qualify for this treatment.

Ask your doctor about palatal stiffening techniques like the Pillar procedure, which places little inserts into the soft palate to decrease its flutter. Beyond the Pillar procedure, there is the prospect of complex surgery. The most common of these are tracheostomies and tonsillectomies. Surgery is generally a last resort, after all other treatments have been exhausted.


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