Sleep apnea treatment | ResMed
Sleep apnea treatment options

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 (PAP) 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.

Oral appliance therapy

An oral appliance, often called a mandibular repositioning device (MRD), is an effective additional therapy option and can be considered a first-line* of therapy for patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea. It is a custom-made, adjustable oral appliance available from a dentist that holds the lower jaw in a forward position during sleep. This mechanical protrusion expands the space behind the tongue, puts tension on the pharyngeal walls to reduce collapse of the airway and diminishes palate vibration.

Indications for custom MRDs

MRDs are the first line of treatment* for mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) patients who:

  • Do not adhere to PAP treatment
  • Prefer MRDs over PAP treatment
  • Fail behavioral treatment measures
  • Are inappropriate candidates for or fail to comply with CPAP

MRDs are the second line treatment for severe OSAS (AHI>30) after a CPAP trial.

ResMed’s NarvalTM CC is the first MRD that is manufactured using CAD/CAM technology to ensure the absolute best fit for patients, leading to high compliance and efficacy.2

*American Academy of Sleep Medicine Practice Parameters, Update 2006

Alternative treatment options

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. And studies have shown that when patients are successful with their therapy, their long-term health care costs are at least 50% lower overall.3-5

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


  1. Benjafield et al. Climate Control: Humidification with heated tube. ResMed Science Center 2010
  2. JC Meurice et al. Orcades. A prospective cohort study of severe obstructive sleep apnoea patients receiving second line-treatment with a mandibular repositioning device (CadCam; Narval)
  3. Albarrak et al. Sleep 2005
  4. Kryger et al. Sleep 2005
  5. Kapur et al. Sleep 1999