Sleep apnea treatment options


There are a variety of treatment options for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), each of which has varying levels of effectiveness. Read on to learn more, and for help deciding what option is best for your patient.

Positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy

Positive airway pressure (PAP) 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 generated by a therapy device and sent through air tubing to a mask worn over a patient's face.

As a result of positive airway pressure therapy, patients with severe sleep apnea may experience a return to more normal sleep patterns once his or her sleep debt resolves. ResMed’s S9™ Series of devices helps patients sleep consistently through the four-hour compliance threshold — even those who struggle most with compliance.1 S9 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 a single, or continuous, fixed pressure.
  • Automatic positive airway pressure (APAP) therapy, which automatically adjusts pressure levels based on a patient’s breathing. APAP may be particularly well suited to patients with REM-related sleep apnea, positional apnea or those who are noncompliant with standard CPAP therapy.
  • Bilevel or variable positive airway pressure (VPAP), which provides higher inspiratory pressure and lower expiratory pressure. Bilevel/VPAP therapy can be effective for sleep apnea patients who are non-compliant with CPAP therapy; bilevel and VPAP therapy can also be used to treat conditions other than OSA and is the first line of treatment for a wide-range of respiratory disorders like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Alternative treatment options

A mandibular repositioning device (MRD) is also an effective alternative to PAP therapy for patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea. ResMed’s Narval™CC is the first MRD that's 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, it 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 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.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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