Monday, August 3, 2009

Sleep Apnea Treatment: What Works Best?

A story today on NPR’s “Morning Edition” discussed treatment options for obstructive sleep apnea and snoring.

What is the best treatment for OSA? In June the AASM released a clinical guideline for the evaluation and treatment of sleep apnea; it was published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Here is a summary of the AASM recommendations:

CPAP Therapy
CPAP therapy is the “treatment of choice” for OSA. It is effective for all severity levels of sleep apnea. CPAP should be the first treatment that a doctor offers to someone with OSA.

CPAP stands for “continuous positive airway pressure.” It provides a steady stream of air through a mask that you wear during sleep.

Oral Appliance Therapy
An oral appliance is an alternative treatment option for people with mild or moderate OSA; people with severe OSA should be treated with CPAP. Oral appliance therapy also can help a person who has primary snoring.

An oral appliance is a dental mouth piece that you wear during sleep. It fits much like a sports mouth guard or an orthodontic retainer. It either holds the tongue or supports the jaw in a forward position. An oral appliance should be customized to fit you by a
dentist who has been trained in dental sleep medicine.

A surgical procedure is an alternative treatment option for some people with OSA. It may be required to correct a physical abnormality; it also may be performed if you are unable to have success with CPAP or an oral appliance.

There are a variety of surgeries that can help correct a specific problem. Targeted areas include the throat, tonsils, jaw and nose. Surgery may not cure OSA; you may need to continue with another treatment such as CPAP. Positive results also may not be permanent; symptoms may reappear at a later time.

Behavioral Strategies
Weight loss is recommended for everyone with OSA who is overweight. But it rarely cures sleep apnea. It should be combined with another treatment. Positional therapy – side sleeping – may help some people with less severe OSA.

A board-certified sleep specialist can determine which treatment option is best for you. Contact an AASM-accredited sleep disorders center for help with sleep apnea.

No comments:

Post a Comment