Sleep apnea treatment options

There are a variety of sleep apnea treatment options that have varying levels of effectiveness. Learn more about them here to help you decide on the best option for your patient.

Positive airway pressure therapy

Positive airway pressure therapy is widely regarded as the most effective way to treat OSA and certain types of central sleep apnea (CSA). It works by creating a "pneumatic splint" for the upper airway, preventing the soft tissues of the upper airway from narrowing and collapsing. Pressurized air is sent from a therapy device through air tubing and a mask that patients wear over their face, through to the upper airway.

As a result of positive airway pressure therapy, patients with severe sleep apnea may experience a return to a normal sleep pattern once his or her sleep debt resolves. ResMed’s AirSense and AirCurve Series of devices help patients consistently sleep through the four hour compliance threshold – even those who struggle most with compliance.1  AirSense and AirCurve devices are stylish and quiet, and provide a variety of unique features that deliver the ultimate in comfort.

CPAP, APAP and bilevel therapy

Positive airway pressure therapy can be delivered in a number of modes:

  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), which delivers pressurized air at one fixed pressure.

  • Automatic Positive Airway Pressure (APAP) therapy – which automatically adjusts pressure levels based on a patient’s breathing – may be particularly suited to patients with REM-related sleep apnea, positional apnea or those who are noncompliant with standard CPAP therapy.

  • Bilevel therapy – which provides higher inspiratory pressure and lower expiratory pressure – can also be effective for certain patients who are non-compliant. Bilevel therapy can be used to treat conditions other than obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and is the first line of treatment for a wide-range of respiratory disorders.

Alternative treatment options

A mandibular repositioning device (MRD) is also an effective alternative to positive airway pressure therapy for those with mild to moderate sleep apnea.

ResMed’s NarvalTM CC to is the first and only MRD that is manufactured using CAD/CAM technology, ensuring the absolute best fit for patients and a high rate of compliance.

Surgery is also an option for treating sleep apnea, but as with all surgeries, has associated risks. Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), the most commonly performed surgical procedure for OSA in the U.S., is a treatment option with a somewhat low rate of success.

Patient outcomes and comorbidities

Helping your patients start and continue with the most effective sleep apnea treatment can help them take back control of their lives. Effective treatment can reverse the effects of daytime sleepiness, fatigue, moodiness and depression. Studies have also shown that when patients are successful with their therapy, their long-term health care costs are at least 50% lower overall.2-4

There are also a variety of serious comorbidities such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and stroke that have a strong connection to sleep apnea.


  • 01

    Benjafield et al.Climate Control: Humidification with heated tube. ResMed Science Center 2010

  • 02

    Albarrak et al.Sleep 2005

  • 03

    Kryger et al.Sleep 2005

  • 04

    Kapur et al.Sleep 1999

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