Treatments for Sleep Apnea

Different options for different severities

SAN ANTONIO – Surgery, a dental device, CPAP, or BiPAP can all help when it comes to treating sleep apnea. Doctors may choose one over another depending on the severity of the disorder diagnosed in a patient. 

David Gonzalez's sleep apnea is treated with a BiPAP and he says it's helped him get the rest he needs while keeping his airway open while he sleeps.

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"It makes a big difference. It makes a huge difference," Gonzalez said. 

Gonzalez worked the overnight shift as a staff pharmacist at University Hospital for more than 20 years. He said he never had any trouble sleeping until three years ago. A sleep study revealed he had obstructive sleep apnea. 

Amanda Brosnan, a physician's assistant with the University Health System, says a person with sleep apnea is placed on BiPAP if a CPAP does not improve a patient's condition first. 

A CPAP sends pressure one way to keep the patient's airway open.  

Brosnan explained BiPAP is, "an inspiratory pressure -- it helps as you are breathing in -- and an expiratory pressure -- it helps as (you're) breathing out."

A CPAP and a BiPAP are usually used for patients with severe sleep apnea. A dental device may be used for patients with mild sleep apnea. Surgery can also help with sleep apnea but the treatment is mostly used for children with sleep apnea. 

Brosnan warns those who don't know they have sleep apnea and try to fix their sleep problems with sleeping pills can actually aggravate breathing problems. 

"It can make the sleep apnea worse in that the body is more relaxed and the structures are collapsing more," Brosnan explained. 

You can have a snore without having sleep apnea. Brosnan says if you undergo a sleep study and find out you just have a snore, you may want to try some nose strips.


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