A Comprehensive Guide to Treating Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is an alarming condition that can have profound repercussions in all aspects of life and health, from social interactions to your physical condition. Left untreated, it can result in excessive drowsiness, poor concentration or memory issues, headaches, sore throat irritations and dry mouth symptoms – among many others.

There are various treatments available to address obstructive sleep apnea, including CPAP therapy, oral appliances and lifestyle adjustments.

Sleep Apnea History

Medical professionals were unaware that breathing interruptions during sleep were a widespread condition until recently. Common symptoms include loud snoring, daytime sleepiness, fatigue and memory problems. If left untreated, breathing disruptions may even lead to heart disease and other serious health problems.

Sleep apnea can be divided into two main categories: obstructive and central. Obstructive sleep apnea is the more prevalent form, occurring when someone’s airway closes during sleep due to narrowing or blockage of their throat, while central sleep apnea occurs when brain sends incorrect signals to muscles controlling breathing – often caused by low oxygen levels (hypoxemia), high altitude or neurological disorders like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease).

An individual may experience both forms of the disorder at different points in time. Mild cases of obstructive apnea may be treated by altering behavior or positional therapy (sleeping on one’s side rather than back) to improve airway flow and reduce snoring; more serious cases may require surgery to remove excess tissue such as tonsils or adenoids from their throat.

If the problem is central, a doctor might recommend dental appliances or mouthpieces that will open and keep the airway clear while sleeping. Others find a CPAP machine useful, which uses a mask and hose to deliver constant air pressure through either your nose or mouth while sleeping; it can help manage mild-to-moderate cases of both obstructive and central sleep apnea.

Many people living with obstructive apnea experience snoring as one of their first symptoms of their condition, while other early indicators include dry mouth, throat clearing, sore or tired muscles and the sensation that you are choking. Other early symptoms may include difficulty focusing or poor school performance which may resemble attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It’s essential to consult your physician if these symptoms arise – sleep apnea testing will ensure proper care as breathing interruptions can contribute to depression, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other chronic illnesses.


Sleep apnea can have serious adverse consequences if not identified and treated, including symptoms that interfere with daytime functioning as well as increasing your risk for long-term conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and diabetes. You can enhance your quality of life by working closely with both your primary care doctor and sleep specialist in finding an individualized solution that meets all of these criteria.

Sleep apnea’s most familiar symptom is snoring, which happens when the throat collapses and narrows during sleep, blocking air from entering the lungs and prompting your brain to send signals to wake you up and start breathing again. This pattern of breathing — known as obstructive sleep apnea — can happen multiple times throughout the night for several seconds at a time, often lasting several times over.

Other symptoms of sleep apnea include difficulty with concentration or focus, headaches, irritability or mood changes, headaches, dry mouth sore throat poor memory and depression. Partners, family or friends of someone suffering from central sleep apnea may notice pauses in breathing while they’re sleeping – this phenomenon known as Cheyne-Stokes breath pattern may even appear when sleeping alone!

Sleep apnea treatments include lifestyle modifications and devices designed to open the upper airways during sleep such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines or mouthpieces that open your airways during restful slumber.

Surgical interventions may also help alleviate or alleviate symptoms associated with sleep apnea, depending on what’s triggering them. A surgeon might use radiofrequency tissue reduction, an advanced procedure designed to shrink or stiffen tissues in your nose, tonsils and tongue base in order to make breathing easier for you.

People suffering from sleep apnea should avoid driving or operating heavy machinery when fatigued, and aim for seven to eight hours of high-quality restful sleep every night. Working closely with their primary care doctor or sleep specialist is also recommended in order to effectively manage symptoms and avoid potential complications associated with untreated apnea.


Your doctor will ask questions about your sleeping habits to diagnose sleep apnea, such as how often you take naps, whether or not you sleepwalk while sleeping and if any members of your family have it. They’ll then perform an exam that consists of physically looking for anything that might narrow the upper airway such as an enlarged tonsil or pulled back jaw – as well as reviewing any heart or lung conditions, medications you take or any health problems that might impact sleep quality.

An initial physical examination can help your physician decide whether or not to refer you to a sleep specialist, before ordering an overnight sleep study to gauge how often and severe your apnea is. A test called polysomnography records how often each hour you experience apneas, hypopneas, respiratory effort-related arousals (RERAs) as you sleep – or RERAs!

Your doctor will use the results from the polysomnogram to calculate an AHI index score that measures how severe or mild your apnea-hypopnea disorder is and which symptoms it causes. He or she will tailor treatment accordingly.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when airway passageways become blocked, making breathing hard. This leads to low oxygen levels in your blood and increases your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke as well as prevents you from receiving enough deep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which may result in memory loss and depression.

There are treatment options for obstructive sleep apnea, and by adhering to them your quality of life should increase. Be sure to get regular follow-up visits, and inform your physician of any changes in symptoms or condition that arise during therapy.


Sleep apnea can be treated in various ways; your doctor will tailor their approach depending on what kind of apnea you have and its severity. Some treatments may involve noninvasive methods while others could involve surgery or medical devices.

Obstructive sleep apnea is one of the most prevalent forms of sleep apnea, whereby muscles supporting structures in your upper respiratory tract relax while you sleep and narrow or close off airways, cutting off oxygen flow into the body and leading to feelings of tiredness or even higher blood pressure or heart disease.

Other forms of sleep apnea include central sleep apnea, which occurs when breathing stops or is interrupted repeatedly while you sleep. It’s more serious than obstructive apnea because it can lead to serious health problems as well as depression and difficulty focusing. If this type of apnea affects you, your physician may suggest treatment options such as cardioversion or neuromuscular disorders.

Your doctor may suggest other lifestyle adjustments to address sleep apnea. They may advise weight loss, quitting smoking (which worsens symptoms), avoiding sedatives or sleeping pills and sleeping on your side instead of back for relief.

Non-invasive treatments for obstructive sleep apnea typically consist of oral appliances and positive airway pressure therapy. An oral appliance, such as a mouthguard designed to reposition lower jaw and tongue for more space in throat area can help reduce snoring as well as provide some relief for mild-moderate OSA sufferers. If you want to check out this expert, they use an Itero scanner to treat TMJ.

Positive airway pressure (PAP) is a standard treatment option for moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea, in which an air pressure machine sends air directly into your throat through a tube connected to a mask worn over either nose or mouth while sleeping, to keep the throat from collapsing or opening during breathing in. PAP may help protect you against collapsing throat muscles when inhaling, helping protect you from collapsing or opening each time.

Some individuals suffering from obstructive sleep apnea opt for surgery to reposition their jaw, reduce tongue size or remove extra tissues in their throats. Other surgeries used to treat sleep apnea include reconstructing an upper or lower jaw structure or reconstructing its structure in order to repair deformed palates or nasal septa – or reconstruct the shape.