It is important to see a sleep apnea specialist who can evaluate your symptoms and help determine an effective treatment. There are several possible treatments ranging from behavioral changes to facial surgery or therapy with the help of a device.
For mild cases — Treatment is more conservative and includes: Weight loss for overweight patients, avoiding use of alcohol and sleeping pills, using pillows and other devices to promote sleeping in a side position, use of nasal sprays.
For mild to moderate cases — A dental appliance (known as mandibular advancement devices) can prevent the tongue from blocking the throat or assist with advancing the lower jaw to promote an unobstructed airway. One such device is a custom-fitted SomnoDent MAS, a CPAP alternative, which allows you to breathe easily and continuously. It is discrete and comfortable since it is custom-made for you, and allows you to open and close your mouth normally. Denture wearers are also able to be fitted with the SomnoDent MAS.
Another device, known as Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), has been the preferred initial treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. Patients wear a mask over their nose and mouth and air is forced in to prevent the upper airway tissues from collapsing. The pressure is constant and continuous. the most common complaints about the CPAP relate to frequent awakenings from mask discomfort, dry mouth or nasal congestion, claustrophobia, or noise emitted by the machine.
For severe cases — Surgery may help some patients with sleep apnea. Often done on an outpatient basis, surgery is performed on those patients with excessive or malformed tissue that can obstruct airflow through the mouth and/or nose. Examples of surgeries include: somnoplasty that tightens the soft palate at the back of the throat; UPPP (uvulopalatopharyngoplasty) that removes excess soft tissue in the back of the throat and palate; manibular/maxillary advancement surgery where the jaw bone is moved forward to make more room in the back of the throat; and, nasal surgery to correct nasal obstructions such as a deviated septum.