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How is Sleep Apnea Treated Traditionally?

Doctorpedia Editorial Team Doctorpedia Editorial Team May 27, 2021
Medically reviewed by Susan Kerrigan, MD and Marianne Madsen

About 1 in 15 adults in the US have sleep apnea. That’s about 18 million people. Experts estimate that 80% of these people are undiagnosed and suffer without really knowing why they wake up feeling like they didn’t sleep at all. What can be done to help those with sleep apnea get the sleep they need?

 

Treating Sleep Apnea

 

Many methods have been used to treat sleep apnea. Here are some of the traditional ways. However, there are also several new high-tech ways to diagnose and treat sleep apnea. 

 

  • CPAP machine: One of the most common ways to treat sleep apnea is to assign and configure a CPAP machine. This machine forces air into the air passages so your airways stay open all night. You wear a mask over your nose and mouth while you sleep, allowing you to rest with uninterrupted breathing.   
  • Surgery: Sometimes, especially with children who also have night terrors, removing enlarged adenoids and/or tonsils has been shown to improve sleep apnea. This keeps the tissues from falling back in the throat during the night and obstructing the air passage. Surgical correction for airflow that is narrowed by swollen tissues, including fat tissue, can allow air to pass freely for adults.

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Sleep Apnea - Surgical Options

Sleep Apnea - Surgical Options

  • Oral Pressure Therapy: This type of therapy involves the patient being fitted with a mouthpiece that has tubing, creating a vacuum to keep the airway open during sleep.
  • Expiratory Positive Airway Pressure (EPAP): These disposable adhesive valves are placed over the nose during sleep. They operate similarly to a CPAP device; however, they apply pressure when you exhale to keep air passages open. This is a smaller device and utilizes the natural pressure of your breathing to achieve open airways. This treatment does not work if your sleep apnea is due to nasal obstruction. 
  • Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure (BiPAP). This device is used for sleep apnea patients where other methods have failed. It is similar to a CPAP device, except that it delivers two different air pressures–one upon inhaling and one upon exhaling.

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Sleep Apnea - Treatments

Sleep Apnea - Treatments

As you can see, there are many types of help available for you if you’re suffering from sleep apnea. If these methods aren’t working (or you’d just like to try something else), there are many cutting-edge technologies available to try. Check with your healthcare team to see if any of them may work for you.

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