What are your Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea?

Dr. John Fleetham, MD, discusses What are your Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea?.

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Dr. John Fleetham, MD, discusses What are your Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea?.
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Featuring Dr. John Fleetham, MD, FRCPC, Respirologist What are your Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea? Duration: 1 minute, 48 seconds

There are a variety of treatments for sleep apnea. There are simple things which you can do. So I mentioned it’s more common in people who are overweight. If you can lose weight that will certainly help.

It’s more common after you’ve drunk alcohol, so avoid alcohol in the evening. If you have nasal obstruction then perhaps a spray to the nose will help. And also, sleeping on your side. Patients tend to snore and have sleep apnea more when they lie on their back than when they lie on their side.

The standard treatment for sleep apnea that cannot be improved by lifestyle measures is something called CPAP. And CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. What that is, it’s a machine that blows air in through your nose, a bit like blowing air into the inner tube of a bicycle tire.

What it does is it distends the back of the throat and relieves the snoring, relieves the stopping of breathing. That can be very successful. Many patients will feel dramatically better with that, but not everybody can always use that treatment.

Another form of treatment is an oral appliance, that’s a mouthpiece that you put in your mouth. It attaches to the top teeth and the bottom teeth and advances your mandible, and treats the condition by advancing the mandible and increasing the size of the back of the throat.

Surgery, in general, is not effective for this type of condition. If you need treatments for sleep apnea, again you should start with your family physician and he may take you through a variety of lifestyle changes which you need to make.

If you need treatment with CPAP, quite often it’s necessary to see a sleep disorder specialist who can start you on an effective treatment and establish whether you’re using it properly. Also, for an oral appliance – that mouthpiece which I mentioned – it’s necessary to go to a dentist who has significant expertise in this field.

Presenter: Dr. John Fleetham, Respirologist, Vancouver, BC

Local Practitioners: Respirologist

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.