There are a number of ways to treat obstructive sleep apnea:
- Significant Weight Loss – For people suffering from obesity, reducing body weight can bring significant improvement in breathing interruptions to the extent that they disappear. In CT scans it became clear that for these individuals there is a danger of fat causing obstruction of the air passage behind the tongue. Weight loss causes the disappearance of this tissue. It is difficult to treat the OSA (obstructive sleep apnea) syndrome in an obese person without losing weight.
- Treatment by Breathing Exercises e.g. Buteyko Method – The Buteyko Method is based on breathing exercises specifically designed to make quiet breathing with a closed mouth possible — also at night. The method of exercise is performed in the course of the day, during hours of that breathing is conscious and controllable. Consistent and continuous practice brings about desired changes in the function of the breathing center in the brain stem responsible for automatic breathing during the night.
- Treatment via the CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure )appliance– this device prevents the sagging of tissues by injecting a flow of air. The machine consists of a compressor producing pressured air flow and a nasal mask. The appliance works as explained in this short film:
The CPAP device does not cure the problem, rather it prevents the problem from interfering with the person’s function.
Acclimation to CPAP is sometimes uncomfortable due to the cold air flow on the face and affects restful sleep.
- The Dental Mandibular Advancement Device – this dental appliance is a plastic device that fits over the teeth during sleep. The device advances the lower jaw forward, and together with it also pushes forward the base of the tongue, thereby enlarging the area of the pharynx and freeing room for the passage of air. This is a good and comfortable solution for patients that cannot accustom to the CPAP machine.
According to the majority of studies the CPAP is more effective than the dental device. Nevertheless, in many instances, patients have the CPAP appliance do not use it for the entire night or even at all.
It was found in a comparison study that out of 126 CPAP treated patients, 71% of the people preferred to use the dental device.
There is also the possibility to treat obstructive sleep apnea with surgery. Surgical treatment is a less recommended option due to the side-effects that accompany it, however each case needs to be considered individually.
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