A Breakdown of Medical Sleep Apnea Treatments

A Breakdown of Medical Sleep Apnea Treatments

Once diagnosed, many sleep apnea patients face the challenge of changing their lifestyle habits in an effort to overcome the condition. Some may go to extremes by undergoing surgery to hopefully cure the sleep disorder. 

However, A more common solution is scouting out devices such as breathing machines and sleep monitors to assist with alleviating the uncomfortable symptoms that follow sleep apnea episodes. These devices allow individuals to get a good night's rest and go about their day without battling extreme fatigue and poor concentration. In this article, we look at a series of medical sleep machines and procedures that can limit and even cure the effects of sleep apnea.

Where to Start

The first step to treating sleep apnea is understanding which type you may be suffering from. There are three types of sleep apnea. The most common form is known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Others include central sleep apnea (CSA) and complex sleep apnea. OSA is characterized by the repeated obstruction of the pharyngeal or upper airway during sleep. When the muscles in the throat relax, they can no longer support the surrounding tissue. Once this occurs, the airway collapses, making it impossible to breathe.

The second, rarer form of the disorder, CSA, differs whereby the inability to breathe during sleep is not due to an obstructed airway. Instead, the brain fails to send signals to the body to continue involuntarily breathing while the patient sleeps. This specific form of sleep apnea is caused by the brain experiencing difficulties in respiratory regulation. Complex sleep apnea is even less common. It is when a patient experiences both CSA and OSA simultaneously. 

Breathing Machines for Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea patients use positive airway pressure (PAP) machines to provide a controlled airflow to the lungs and prevent apnea events. We'll break down three of the most common ones used.


Auto-adjustable positive airway pressure (APAP) adapts the airflow supply based on a person's needs. Unlike other machines, APAP devices maintain regular breathing by adjusting to specific changes that could affect one's breathing patterns, such as sleeping positions or being within a specific sleep stage. Consistent air pressure is delivered to keep the airway open and will prevent apnea events during the night.

APAP machines are suitable for OSA patients who have not experienced success with CPAP and BiPAP machines as they offer flexible settings.


The most commonly prescribed form of PAP, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), keeps the airway open by delivering a steady airflow pressure. This allows sleep apnea patients to maintain regular breathing patterns while they sleep. However, since the machine constantly provides one preset air pressure, some patients may experience choking. Unlike APAP, the machine will not adjust when a person exhales.


BiPAP refers to bi-level positive airway pressure. It is similar to CPAP, but instead of delivering a single continuous pressure, a BiPAP machine delivers two. These are known as the inhalation positive airway pressure (IPAP) and exhalation positive airway pressure (EPAP). The two pressure settings work so that a higher pressure is delivered as a person breathes in and a lower pressure as they breathe out. 

Sleep Monitors to Track Apnea Episodes

Living with sleep apnea is not easy. That's why the LOOKEE® Sleep Oxygen Monitors allow you to track the effectiveness of your CPAP treatment and ensure that it is doing what it needs to! When your blood oxygen levels drop below acceptable levels, our devices will send a gentle vibration to wake you up. Say goodbye to those nighttime choking fits and get the rest you deserve!

Surgical Procedures to Treat Sleep Apnea

Surgical treatments for sleep apnea are usually considered when patients continue to experience harsh symptoms despite the use of PAP machines. Below is a summary of a few procedures that can be done to treat sleep apnea.


This is a surgical procedure whereby any extra tissue present within the upper throat and back of the mouth is removed. This aims to open up the airway to allow for easier breathing and has also been done to treat snoring.

Midline Glossectomy

During this surgery, a portion of the back of the tongue is removed to open up the airway.

Anterior Inferior Mandibular Osteotomy

A procedure whereby the chin bone is divided into two parts, allowing the tongue to extend forward and prevent it from obstructing the airway.

Genioglossus Advancement

During this surgery, the tendons connecting the tongue to the lower jaw are tightened. This prevents the tongue from moving backward when a patient is asleep.

Maxillomandibular Advancement

Also known as jaw-repositioning, the procedure moves a patient's jaw forward to provide more space for the back of the tongue. This prevents it from obstructing the airway.

When it comes to treating sleep apnea, it is vital that patients know what they're dealing with. After understanding their condition, they can seek the appropriate medical treatment to help them overcome it. With the use of their sleep study results, a somnologist will be able to identify the type of sleep apnea the patient has and which treatment would be best to alleviate any symptoms.

Reference List:

Differences Between CPAP, APAP, and BiPAP as Obstructive Sleep Apnea Therapies:


Different Types of Sleep Apnea Machines: CPAP, BiPAP, and APAP:


Types of Sleep Apnea Machines: https://www.emeraldsleep.com/treatment/types-of-sleep-apnea-machines.html

Surgical Procedures for Obstructive Sleep Apnea: https://www.uspharmacist.com/article/surgical-procedures-for-obstructive-sleep-apnea#:~:text=Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty,recovery%20time%20may%20be%20prolonged.

Surgery for Sleep Apnea: