There are several different methods for treating obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), but which one is most appropriate will often depend on the severity of the condition. Experts at Atlantic Health Sleep Centers at Morristown Medical Center, Overlook Medical Center, Chilton Medical Center and Hackettstown Medical Center will review each patient’s sleep study results, medical history and upper airway structure before making a treatment recommendation.
The goal of care in most cases is to prevent obstructions from occurring by widening the airway. Our center accomplishes this though:
- Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
- - Recognized as the most effective way to treat OSA, CPAP uses pressurized air to keep the airway open. Pressure settings are determined by the sleep physician, who continually follows up with the patient to ensure that the device remains effective and comfortable. CPAP machines are small and portable, and there are several different types of masks to choose from.
- Oral appliances
- - Custom made by dentists, oral appliances are worn by patients at night to keep the airway open during sleep. They do so by pushing the lower jaw forward, preventing the tongue from falling back, or a combination of the two.
- Positional therapy
- - When lying on the back, it is more likely for the tongue to fall back and block the airway, worsening OSA. A variety of products, including cushions, foam wedges and alarms, can be used to keep patients from sleeping in this position.
- Weight loss
- - Excess fat around the neck can make the airway narrower. For overweight people with mild cases of OSA, weight loss may help alleviate symptoms.
- Avoiding alcohol and depressants
- - Alcohol and medications, such as sedatives and pain killers, may relax the airway muscles and cause apneas. Avoiding these substances before bed can lessen the effects of OSA, however, those who need such medications may have to have their sleep apnea treatment adjusted accordingly.
- - In a small percentage of patients, surgical procedures can be used to widen the airway.