Treatment modalities for mild sleep apnea include lifestyle changes such as losing weight, quitting smoking, or improving your diet. For more severe cases of sleep apnea and snoring, a number of treatment methods are available to the patient.
If the cause of the sleep apnea and snoring is suspected to be an underlying cardiovascular or neuromuscular disorder, then treating these conditions may help alleviate the symptoms of the sleep apnea. For instance, treating heart failure may possibly eliminate the occurrence of central sleep apnea.
Using supplemental oxygen while the patient sleeps may also help alleviate the symptoms of central sleep apnea. Delivering oxygen directly to the patient’s lungs using certain devices can improve the condition drastically.
When conventional treatment modalities fail to manage the sleep apnea symptoms, surgery becomes an option especially for patients that exhibit jaw structure problems. Surgery can also enlarge the airway through the nose or the throat that vibrate during sleep and may be the possible cause of blockage of the upper airways. The patient’s surgical options include tissue removal, wherein the doctor removes tissues from the back of the mouth and the top of the throat, including the tonsils and adenoids.
Jaw repositioning, or maxillomandibular advancement, is another surgical procedure that involves moving the jaw forward to increase the space behind the tongue in the soft palate, thereby making obstruction less likely to occur.
A tracheostomy, or creating a new airway, may be needed by the patient if all other forms of treatments have failed and the sleep apnea has escalated in severity and has become a life-threatening condition. During this procedure, the surgeon creates an opening in the neck where a plastic or metal tube will be inserted, which the patient can use to breathe. The opening will be covered during the daytime, but uncovered at night to allow air to pass in and out of the lungs, without passing through the blocked air passages in the patient’s throat.