Sleep apnea affects more than 18 million people in the U.S. The telltale pauses in breathing are caused by a blocked airway or abnormal collapses of the pharynx, the membrane-lined cavity behind the nose and mouth that connects them to the esophagus. The associated sounds of snorting, choking or gasping for breath are indications of a larger medical issue.
Long-term impacts of sleep apnea can include neurocognitive and cardiovascular disease that may result in stroke or other brain disorders.
Sleep Apnea Treatment
Our sleep medicine experts offer a broad spectrum of treatments for sleep apnea.
CPAP: The first line of treatment for sleep apnea, the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine helps keep your airway open by gently blowing air down your throat. The CPAP machine takes time to adjust to, and there are many versions available depending on the patient's shape and size.
Oral appliance therapy: A small plastic device fitted to your mouth (similar to a mouth guard) helps prevent the collapse of the tongue and tissues in the back of your throat.
Weight loss and weight-loss surgery: People who are overweight or obese have extra tissue in the back of their throat that can block their airway while they sleep. Losing weight may help reduce, and in some cases even cure, sleep apnea. Learn about our
weight management and
surgical weight loss programs at UC San Diego Health.
Surgical procedures: Surgery is sometimes recommended for people with severe sleep apnea. These procedures are performed by our head and neck surgeons.
Learn out more about surgery for sleep apnea.