Sleep Apnea Treatment
Surgery to Correct Sleep Apnea Symptoms
Some patients with sleep apnea may need surgery. Although several surgical procedures for sleep apnea treatment are used to increase the size of the airway, none of them is completely successful or without risks. More than one procedure may need to be tried before the patient realizes any benefits.
Some of the more common procedures for obstructive sleep apnea treatment include removal of adenoids and tonsils (especially in children), nasal polyps or other growths, or other tissue in the airway and correction of structural deformities. Younger patients seem to benefit from these surgical procedures more than older patients.
Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) is a procedure used for sleep apnea treatments to remove excess tissue at the back of the throat (tonsils, uvula, and part of the soft palate). The success of this technique may range from 30 to 60 percent. The long-term side effects and benefits are not known, and it is difficult to predict which patients will do well with this procedure.
Laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP) is done to eliminate snoring but has not been shown to be effective in sleep apnea treatment This procedure involves using a laser device to eliminate tissue in the back of the throat. Like UPPP, LAUP may decrease or eliminate snoring but not eliminate sleep apnea itself. Elimination of snoring, the primary symptom of sleep apnea, without influencing the condition may carry the risk of delaying the diagnosis and possible treatment of sleep apnea in patients who elect to have LAUP. To identify possible underlying obstructive sleep apnea, sleep studies are usually required before LAUP is performed.
Somnoplasty is a procedure that uses radiowaves in sleep apnea treatment to reduce the size of some airway structures such as the uvula and the back of the tongue. This technique is being investigated as a treatment for apnea.
Tracheostomy is a sleep apnea treatment a used in persons with severe, life-threatening sleep apnea. In this procedure, a small hole is made in the windpipe and a tube is inserted into the opening. This tube stays closed during waking hours, and the person breathes and speaks normally. It is opened for sleep so that air flows directly into the lungs, bypassing any upper airway obstruction. Although this procedure is highly effective, it is an extreme measure that is rarely used.
Other procedure for Apnea Treatments: Patients in whom sleep apnea is due to deformities of the lower jaw may benefit from surgical reconstruction. Finally, surgical proced-ures to treat obesity are sometimes recommended for obstructive sleep apnea patients who are morbidly obese.
Non-specific Sleep Apnea Treatment
Behavioral changes are an important part of the treatment program, and in mild cases behavioral sleep apnea treatment therapy may be all that is needed. Overweight persons can benefit from losing weight. Even a 10 percent weight loss can reduce the number of apneic events for most patients. Individuals with apnea should avoid the use of alcohol and sleeping pills, which make the airway more likely to collapse during sleep and prolong the apneic periods. In some patients with mild obstructive sleep apnea, breathing pauses occur only when they sleep on their backs. In such cases, using pillows and other devices that help them sleep in a side position may be helpful.