Dr. Mansfield describes the treatments used for patients with sleep apnea.
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Treatments of sleep apnea really are three-fold. One is what the patient can do for herself or himself, meaning maintaining lean body weight, try to avoid alcohol within four hours of going to bed, trying to avoid sleeping pills that may alter your breathing or your sleep patterns, regular exercise and then keeping the nasal passages clear with saline, salt water, avoiding caffeine and of course, don’t drive if you are tired or don’t use heavy machinery if you are tired. The second mainstay of treatment in apnea is what we call CPAP or BiPAP and the premise of that is that it creates a pressure in the windpipe, which prevents collapsing of the windpipe at night when you sleep. These can be cumbersome and patient should not be alarmed if they don’t tolerate the machinery well. In fact, probably 40 to 50% of patients on machinery are unable to use it effectively and successfully. And lastly, there’s surgical management, which can be divided into essentially three phases. A phase one surgical management, which basically entails opening the nasal passages and the throat to try to create a relaxation or opening of the airway where there is soft tissue, and a phase two surgery which involves bony structural changes. The success of surgical management for most patients, including other things that patients can do themselves, has 90% or higher cure rate when all the sequences of surgery are completed. So patients have to decide individually what they would like to accomplish and what their goals are and what treatments are most effective for them and what they are most comfortable with.