Treatment Options For Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder in which a person's breathing stops and starts, and it can be a serious condition. Thankfully, there are a number of ways to treat sleep apnea if you suffer from this disorder. Here are some common sleep apnea treatment options that an ENT specialist might recommend.

Sleep With a PAP Machine

The most common way to treat serious cases of sleep apnea is with a positive airway pressure machine (PAP machine). 

This machine goes over the nose and mouth, and it actively delivers air to the upper airway so that pressure is maintained in the airway. By maintaining pressure, a PAP machine keeps the airway from collapsing and prevents the stops in a person's nighttime breathing. 

Many patients who rely on a PAP machine get a continuous positive airway pressure machine (CPAP machine), but this isn't the only type of PAP machine available. Depending on the specifics of your condition, an ENT specialist might instead prescribe an autotitrator machine or a bilevel machine.

Use an Oral Appliance

An oral appliance is a passive way of treating sleep apnea, as it doesn't actively deliver air to the upper respiratory system. Instead, an oral appliance goes into the mouth so that it pushes the lower jaw and tongue slightly forward. This enlargens the upper airway, thus making it less likely that the airway will collapse and cause a stoppage in breathing.

An oral appliance is frequently used in more mild cases of sleep apnea, where a PAP machine isn't necessary. The appliance might also be used in moderate and severe cases if a PAP machine proves ineffective for some reason.

If you use an oral appliance, the appliance will have to be custom-fitted to your mouth by a dentist who specializes in this area of dentistry. You should still see an ENT before going to the dentist, however, because an ENT has the medical knowledge that's required to determine whether an oral appliance, PAP machine, or other treatment is the best option.

Undergo Oral Surgery

In some situations, oral surgery may be an appropriate way to treat sleep apnea. This is usually reserve for situations where other treatments are inadequate, but it might be necessary if there's a physical abnormality that's affecting how a person breathes while they're sleeping. 

Only an ENT specialist can determine whether oral surgery is appropriate. If it is, the surgery will be performed by an ENT.

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Face It: ENTs Are Awesome

When there's something wrong with your ears, nose, and throat, call an ENT specialist! These doctors are amazing at dealing with everything from acute hearing loss to tonsil trouble. They can evaluate what is wrong with you, often using simple tests such as a nasal scope or an ear exam. After your first appointment, you should have some answers, which will help you move forward towards better treatment. ENT specialists' professions are not always as well understood as they should be, but you can gain a better understanding by reading the articles provided here. Read one on your lunch break or a few in the evening when you're relaxing.

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