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Is surgery the only option for sleep apnea?

Surgery is not the only option available to treat sleep apnea as there are conservative treatment options such as the use of positive pressure, oral appliances, and weight loss.

Most of these options are effective only when adhered to for a long-term. Surgery is advised in patients who have difficulty with other treatments or in those who do not respond to conservative treatment.

Here is a list of conservative treatment for sleep apnea:

  • Positive Airway Pressure Devices: These machines used with a variety of breathing masks are the most commonly used treatment for moderate to severe sleep apnea. The mask worn during sleep delivers pressurized air continuously or intermittently into the patient's throat. One of the following machines may be used:
    • CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure)
    • VPAP (variable positive airway pressure)
    • BiPAP (bilevel positive airway pressure)
  • Oral appliances: These are approved by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) as an effective first-line treatment for mild to moderate sleep apnea. These appliances are similar to a sports mouthguard and are worn in the mouth while you sleep. These appliances can hold the lower jaw in a forward position to keep the airway open by preventing the collapse of the tongue and upper airway muscles.
  • Upper Airway Stimulation (UAS) Therapy: This is a new, clinically proven treatment that best suits people with moderate to severe sleep apnea who are not able to use CPAP or do not respond well to CPAP. This therapy system works with the natural process of breathing. It consists of three components: a small generator, a stimulation lead, and a breathing sensor lead. A small handheld remote controls the system. It can be activated at night before bed and turned off once you wake up. It monitors your breathing pattern during sleep continuously and also mildly stimulates the important airway muscles to keep the airways open.
  • Nasal decongestants: These medications are effective in cases of mild sleep apnea.
Disclaimer: We do not assume responsibility for the use of the provided information or its interpretation. Our efforts are towards providing current and reliable information; however these should not be considered, or used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment.

Source: https://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Education/Medical-Library/