Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome – treatments

Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is treated with a variety of methods. Respiratory therapy devices or lower jaw splints are used, among other things.

Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome - CPAP respiratory therapy devices

Nocturnal treatment with a respiratory therapy device is the best established treatment for obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, but as the person affected, you have to carry out the treatment every night. When you sleep, you wear a breathing mask that encloses your mouth and nose or just your nose, depending on the model. The mask creates a continuous, slight positive pressure in the airways during sleep. The pressure ensures that the upper airways remain open, breathing interruptions are reduced and the quality of sleep improves. Most patients cope well with night-time treatment with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP).

The CPAP device will be customized for you in the sleep laboratory, where you will also learn how to use it. It is important that you use the device every night if possible and clean the hose and mask regularly. Studies have shown that CPAP therapy can alleviate the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome very well and significantly improve quality of life – it also lowers high blood pressure, for example, and reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes. To ensure that you do not discontinue therapy, it is important to have a permanent contact person with whom you can discuss treatment problems and who will support and guide you in using the device.

Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome - mandibular splint

Some people with sleep apnea syndrome are already helped with a lower jaw splint. This is specially adapted to you and is designed to prevent the lower jaw from falling backwards. The tongue remains in place and does not hinder breathing. The procedure is a very good way to treat mild or moderate apnea. However, you should have your splint customized by us and not buy a standard product. In this way, you can avoid pressure sensitivity and damage to the temporomandibular joint and make wearing the splint more comfortable.

Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome - Surgical procedures

Surgical procedures for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome are only promising in special situations. The removal of nasal polyps and large palatine tonsils can be a sensible step. A curved nasal septum with obstructed nasal breathing or jaw deformities can also be corrected surgically. You should discuss carefully with us which form of surgery may be suitable for you.

Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome - positional training

To a certain extent, training the body position during sleep can help to reduce breathing interruptions. You can wear a rucksack filled with a pillow at night or sew a tennis ball into your pyjamas. New scientific studies have shown that a small device that is attached to a band around the chest and continuously records the body position is useful for position-dependent forms of sleep apnea syndrome. The device generates a vibration as a warning signal when the patient is lying on their back, which leads to them getting into the habit of sleeping on their side. Let us advise you to see whether this form of treatment is promising for you. Training methods to increase upper airway muscle tone are also effective in obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, but the training must be long-term and regular.

Snoring - treatment options

If you or your partner suffer from annoying snoring but do not have obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, this is referred to as simple snoring. This can be treated effectively by losing weight if you are overweight, positional training (as with OSAS) and by using an undercone splint. The long-term effectiveness of surgery for simple snoring has not been scientifically proven.

Responsible squad

Esther Irene Schwarz, PD Dr. med.

Senior Attending Physician, Vice Director of Department, Department of Pulmonology

Tel. +41 44 255 38 28
Specialties: Head of Sleep Medicine

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