Posted By Clod on September 15, 2011
Medical treatment for obstructive sleep apnea includes oral appliances, continuous positive pressure therapy, oxygen and medication. Oral appliances are devices designed to keep the upper airway open by keeping the tongue or jaw from occluding the airway. Oral appliances must be custom-fitted by a dentist and are usually well tolerated.
Medications unfortunately have proven to be ineffective for the majority of people with obstructive sleep apnea. Antidepressants have been used to treat mild forms of sleep apnea, but are only beneficial for small amount of individuals. Oxygen is often used to improve nighttime oxygen saturation. Because this does not prevent sleep apnea, it does not improve the frequency of waking or daytime sleepiness. Oxygen must also be used cautiously in persons with COPD to help prevent carbon dioxide retention.
The best treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is the use of continuous positive airway pressure therapy via a CPAP machine. The CPAP machine comes with a facemask that must be individually fitted to the person. CPAP therapy works by using positive air pressure to splint open the upper airway thus preventing airway obstruction.
CPAP therapy is prescribed when the person goes to bed. People who first start CPAP therapy are often concerned about being able to sleep with a facemask on and can be intimidated by the equipment. However, after only a few nights of use, they report dramatic improvements in sleep, increased energy and alertness in the daytime, and a sense of improved health.
Severe cases of obstructive sleep apnea may require surgical intervention. Palatal, nasal, and/or maxillofacial surgery may be indicated dependent on where the upper airway obstruction occurs. The risk, benefits, and success of these surgeries vary based on procedure and the severity of airway obstruction.