Surgical and Non-Surgical Treatments for Sleep Apnea

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Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that is more common in men. It refers to the interruption of breathing that happens while you sleep and is linked to airway obstruction. When people with sleep apnea experience apnea events, they are often awakened by choking or gasping. 

Because apnea episodes can occur multiple times during the night, the sleep pattern is interrupted and oxygenation is impaired, which can raise your risk for cardiac rhythm disorders. You will need a sleep study to determine if you have sleep apnea and to evaluate the severity of the disorder. Here are some surgical and non-surgical treatments for obstructive sleep apnea that your ENT specialist may recommend. 


Surgical intervention may offer hope to those with sleep apnea. There are a number of different procedures to help decrease the frequency of apnea episodes, and while your physician may recommend that you have your surgery in a hospital so that you can be monitored overnight, you might have it in an outpatient setting. Surgery is typically performed only on those who have throat or nasal tissues that impair breathing.

If you have apnea related to a deviated septum, or if your tonsils are enlarged as a result of multiple infections, acid reflux disease, or allergies, surgical intervention may be recommend by your sleep specialist. While surgery may help manage your sleep apnea, your doctor might recommend that you try conservative treatments such as weight loss before undergoing an invasive procedure. 

CPAP Machine

Continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, is one of the most common treatment options for sleep apnea. With this type of treatment, people wear a mask attached to a hose that fits over the mouth and nose. Air is forced into the throat via the mouth and nose to keep the soft tissues from collapsing.

This helps keep the airway open while you sleep so that apnea episodes are reduced. While a CPAP machine is effective in treating sleep apnea, it may not work if it is not worn properly. Your healthcare provider will show you how to use your CPAP machine and will address all of your concerns prior to use. Your doctor will also stress the importance of keeping your hose and mask clean so that bacteria is not introduced into your throat. 

If you snore, or if you wake up gasping for air, make an appointment with your doctor, who may refer you to a sleep apnea specialist. After your sleep study has been evaluated, your doctor will recommend an appropriate obstructive sleep apnea treatment plan for you.