What treatment options are there for sleep apnea?
Depending upon the severity of the sleep apnea, which goes from mild, moderate, severe to very severe. In mild sleep apnea, they only stop breathing a few times an hour, and if they are modifiable risk factors, like somebody who is obese or drinks alcohol close to bedtime, we can treat those patients with mild sleep apnea by telling them to lose weight, or not take any sedatives close to bedtime: not to drink alcohol close to bedtime.
These patients should not have any risk factors like hypertension or cardiac risk factors. But in people who have moderate, like they stop breathing more than ten times an hour, if they have high blood pressure, if they have cholesterol, if they have risk for heart attacks, and such, for these we need to think about other treatment options.
The most efficient and least invasive is continuous positive airway (CPAP) therapy, which is a mask that they wear at night that pushes air into the throat keeping it open. Other options, such as surgical options are also available, but we need to be aware that surgery is only effective 50% of the time, so it's a 50/50 chance that the patient is taking that it'll be effective. In short, the most effective way is CPAP therapy, but there are other options like surgical treatment. In a minority of cases, we can do weight loss, or modify their risk factors like avoiding sedatives.
We also have another treatment option called oral appliance where they wear something at night that pulls their chin forward. These are the different options available at this time.