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"How do you treat sleep apnea?"

ZocdocAnswersHow do you treat sleep apnea?


I have been diagnosed as having mild to moderate sleep apnea. I have heard a little bit about the Pillar Procedure as a means of treatment. What is your take on this procedure? Is it safe and effective? What is the cost of the treatment, and what type of results are your patients reporting to you? I am so sleepy throughout the work day that I am ready to try anything to get some relief!


Sleep apnea is a very common problem in the United States. There are more than one type, but the type of sleep apnea your are describing seems to be obstructive sleep apnea. This occurs when the soft palate (the back of your throat) relaxes when you sleep and falls obstructing your breathing. It results in cessation of breathing for a short time. It can result in snoring, but not all people that snore have sleep apnea. We treat sleep apnea because it causes a lot of daytime fatigue and also causes high blood pressure and can put you at risk for type of heart disease. It is very important to discuss this with your physician. The first step to treating sleep apnea is to determine the cause, which your physician can help you with. If it is caused by being overweight, then you might obtain a cure by losing weight. If it is not caused by being overweight, or if losing weight does not help, then you might need other treatment. The first line treatment for sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) ventilation. This is a machine that you sleep with that can help keep that area of the oropharynx open while you sleep. I would not recommend any patient attempt a surgical procedure prior to trying these two first line therapies. This includes the Pillar procedure that while a minor procedure, has more risks and is less effective than CPAP. The best physician for you to discuss these options with is a sleep medicine specialist.

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