Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a debilitating sleep and breathing disorder defined as the stopping of breathing for 10 seconds or more that may occur hundreds of times each night but do not fully awaken the individual. People with OSA are usually unaware of their loud snoring, choking, and gasping for air despite the fact that they rarely ever get a “good night’s sleep”.
Obstructive sleep apnea has a profound impact on an individual’s health. In my practice, the Obstructive sleep apnea treatment or treatments that are chosen often depend on the severity of the problem. In some cases, the course of treatment chosen can be life saving!
Sleep apnea symptoms can often be reduced by lifestyle changes such as weight loss. Sometimes simply changing your sleeping habits such as sleeping on your side instead of on your back, can also reduce Obstructive sleep apnea symptoms.
If you smoke or drink, often quitting or reducing your consumption can help. Sleeping pills and tranquilizers should be avoided as they can cause the throat tissues to sag and restrict breathing. And, over-the-counter nasal strips can help, too, because they open the nostrils, which open the nasal airway and often reduce Obstructive sleep apnea symptoms.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea Treatment with CPAP
Based on the severity of a patient’s OSA condition, treatment called Nasal CPAP is often recommended. This treatment involves wearing a face mask attached to an air pump to assist the passage of air into the lungs.
Though CPAP treatment has provided effective relief for many suffering with this condition and is considered the gold standard of care, patients often have a hard time continuing to use this device on a nightly basis. For many of my patients in NYC and Long Island, wearing a mask on their face is an unacceptable or uncomfortable option and as a result, within a year many CPAP devices find their way into a closet, never to be worn again. This leaves many patients with Obstructive sleep apnea at risk.
Sleep Apnea Treatment: Oral Appliance Therapy
As a result of CPAP devices not being used regularly, many patients have chosen instead to wear oral appliances while sleeping. These oral appliances, which are fastened to the upper and lower teeth, are designed to bring the lower jaw forward, carrying the tongue out of the upper airway in the process. They are essentially airway openers, allowing airflow to occur with less resistance during sleep. As a result, not only do oral appliances reduce or eliminate snoring, they have proved to be highly effective in treating Obstructive sleep apnea.
An oral appliance can be used at the same time as the CPAP device, which allows a reduction of airflow through the face mask, and/or the elimination of a full-face mask entirely. This combined therapy works very well for claustrophobic patients because the CPAP benefit can be obtained despite the elimination of the face mask. Not only have oral appliances been proven to be effective in managing OSA, but they allow patients to no longer be forced to travel with a CPAP machine.
Evaluations are performed in my NYC and Long Island offices and can provide the Obstructive sleep apnea treatment you need.