What is the treatment for obstructive sleep apnea?
Dec 27, 2012
Mild obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) - in the UK doctors will probably recommend some lifestyle changes, which may include:
· Losing weight - obesity is a major cause of OSA
· Alcohol - cutting out alcohol completely until symptoms improve. If this is not possible, not drinking in the evening may help.
· Changing medications - some medications, especially sedatives may cause OSA.
· Smoking - the patient will be advised to quit
· An exercise program - a study found a link between the severity of obstructive sleep apnea and a sedentary lifestyle.
· Sleeping position - some people find that symptoms improve if they sleep on their side or slightly propped up.
Positive airway pressure - a machine delivers air pressure through a mask over the nose while the patient sleeps. With this positive airway pressure (CPAP) many patients' airways are kept open, resulting either in no apnea and snoring, or much less. Initially, some individuals may not like sleeping with a mask on; doctors say that with perseverance most patients get used to it and the benefits are worth it. A study found that CPAP improves symptoms of depression in OSA patients.
Oral devices - these are mouthpieces designed to keep the throat open. A mandibular advancement device is worn inside the mouth during sleep; it pulls the lower jar (mandible) forward slightly so that the throat is less constricted (narrow) at night.
Stimulants - patients with severe daytime drowsiness may be prescribed a stimulant (short-term), such as modfanil.
Surgery - the National Health Service (NHS), UK says that surgery should be used as a last resort because it is not usually as effective as continuous positive airway pressure. A study published on 10th October 2012 found that bariatric surgery does not reduce the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. 
· A tracheostomy may be used - in this surgical procedure an opening (stoma) is created into the windpipe; a tube is inserted directly into the neck, bypassing the blocked area.
· Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty - tissue is surgically removed from the top of the throat and back of the mouth; the adenoids and tonsils may also be taken out.