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Kraig W. Jacobson, M.D.

Allergy, Asthma & Immunology

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Medical treatment options for sleep apnea

Posted by on in Primary Care
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Sleep apnea is a common and treatable medical condition. If self-help treatments do not alleviate apnea episodes, patients commonly turn to medical treatment options, such as CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure), BPAP (bi-level positive airway pressure), nocturnal oxygen, dental devices or surgery.

Medical treatment options

CPAP is the most common treatment for moderate-to-severe obstructive sleep apnea. A CPAP machine delivers air pressure through a pressurized face mask placed over your nose while you sleep. The air pressure is enough to keep your upper airway passages open, which prevents snoring and gaps in breathing. Although some people find the CPAP uncomfortable, most people learn to adjust the tension of the straps to make a comfortable fit. If your CPAP machine is not comfortable, or if you experience problems, resist the temptation to quit using it. Instead, contact your doctor to see what modifications can be made to make you more comfortable.

BPAP machines deliver compressed air like the CPAP, but they feature two different pressures, providing more pressure when you inhale and less when you exhale.

Nocturnal supplemental oxygen. Many forms of supplemental oxygen are available for those who suffer from central sleep apnea, and a number of devices are available to deliver oxygen to your lungs.

Breathing devices such as the CPAP and BPAP are commonly customized and have the following features:

  • Portable
  • Compact
  • Occasionally feature a heated humidifier with adjustable heat level
  • Sometimes will gradually increase airway pressure
  • Approved for airport security

If you’ve tried self-help and lifestyle changes and CPAP and BPAP machines, and none of these options work, you may benefit from dental devices, surgery or the Pillar procedure, which is often used to treat snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Talk to your doctor about these additional options. And do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with us if you are experiencing symptoms commonly associated with sleep apnea.

For additional information, see our previous blog posts “Do you have sleep apnea?” and “Diagnosing sleep apnea.” and "Treating sleep apnea with self-help measures".

Tagged in: Apnea Sleep

An energetic problem solver, Dr. Kraig Jacobson has spent his career treating patients and teaching about the complexities of allergy, asthma and immunology. He has practiced medicine in Eugene since 1979. The bigger the challenge, the more he enjoys his work.