23 Jun Dr Levi’s Guide to Snoring and Sleep Apnoea Treatments
If you suffer from snoring or sleep apnoea, chances are that you’ve heard about plenty of treatments out there which claim to treat or cure your condition. The differences between these treatments can be mystifying, and understanding which treatment might be right for you can be confusing. While any treatment for snoring or sleep apnoea should be prescribed by either a doctor or somebody with training in treating sleep disorders, it is good to have a general understanding of the treatments out there.
Dr Levi uses a combination therapy approach, meaning he will often use several of the treatments on this list in combination with each other, to produce maximum results. In general, the therapy approaches can be broken into Major and Minor.
Price: $2 000 – $4 000
The CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine, has always been considered the gold standard for treating sleep apnoea. This treatment involves the patient wearing a gas mask over their mouth and nose and having a pump push air through the mouth into the lungs. While this is an extremely effective way of treating sleep apnoea, it is not very comfortable, meaning patients are unlikely to use the CPAP all night every night. In fact, a recent study from Sydney University found that in the first year of being given a CPAP, patient compliance was extremely low, with most patients using the machine for just a few hours a few nights a week. So while effectiveness when wearing the mask is extremely high, the overall effectiveness of the CPAP machine is often reduced due to low patient compliance.
- Highly Effective
- Often uncomfortable or noisy
- Low patient compliance
Price: $2 200 – $3 300
The MAS (Mandibular Advancement Splint) and other dental devices are tailor made to fit the patient’s mouth and are worn like a mouth guard during sleep. It works to bring the jaw and tongue forward and lift the soft palate, keeping the airway open during sleep. While the efficacy of these devices is somewhat lower than that of the CPAP, compliance is much higher due to the comfort and ease of wearing the device. This means that overall, a MAS can be a better treatment option than CPAP, due to higher patient compliance. The MAS is a great option for those who have had some success with the CPAP but find the noise or discomfort of the machine irritating.
- Comfortable and easy to wear
- Effective treatment for snoring and sleep apnoea
- Lower efficacy than CPAP (if CPAP is worn every night)
Price: $2 000 – $10 000
In extreme cases, patients are sometimes referred to an Ear Nose and Throat doctor for surgery. There are a variety of surgeries which can be performed to ease snoring or sleep apnoea, however they do involve a considerable amount of pain and recovery time for the patient. Furthermore, the results of surgery generally last only about two years.
- In certain cases, surgery can be useful in resolving sleep apnoea or snoring
- Procedure requires a couple of weeks’ recovery time and considerable pain.
- Results are not long lasting
Price: $2 850 for 4 treatments
NightLase is a brand new laser therapy which is being used to treat sleep apnoea. It works by warming the tissue at the back of the throat, stimulating collagen tissue and causing it to contract and tighten. Generally, a course of treatments will entail 3-4 sessions over an 8-week period. Dr Mark Levi and world renowned Dr Harvey Shiffman (Florida, USA) get an average improvement of 75% or greater using the NightLase laser treatment (with the Florida protocols). One maintenance treatment per year will be required to ensure the continued efficacy of the treatment.
- Highly effective
- No surgery, pain or recovery time
- Allows patient to sleep uninhibited by devices
- Not suitable for all patients – must be recommended by a trained professional
Dr Levi works closely with dieticians, as a reduction in weight is one of the simplest and most effective ways to treat snoring and sleep apnoea. In fact, studies have shown that if patients lose just 10% of their body weight, they record a 25% improvement in the degree of their sleep apnoea. Losing weight may be all that is needed to more or less cure a person’s sleep disorder, it can also be used in adjunct with other treatments to enhance their efficacy.
Price: $30 – $70
The results of a sleep study will often reveal that an individual only snores when they are lying on their back. The reason for this is that gravity drags the tongue and mouth tissue backwards, obstructing the airway. Positional therapy prevents the patient from sleeping on their back, usually through a strap on device which causes them discomfort when they try to shift to their back. A more advanced positional therapy device is the Night Shift, which works similarly to a fit bit, but is worn around the neck. When the patient lies on their back, it vibrates, prompting them to roll over without disturbing their sleep. It also records sleep data which can be reviewed.
Price: Approximately $1/day
There are a variety of nose appliances including Mute, Provent and Therasnore, which all work slightly differently, but ultimately aim to open up the nostrils and allow extra air flow. These appliances are minimally effective on their own, but can be useful as an adjunct to other therapy.
Sleep hygiene refers to ensuring that the patient has optimal conditions for sleep. This includes things like avoiding alcohol, ensuring the room is dark, still, silent and cool, avoiding phone and laptop screens before bed and having a bed and pillow which positively affect sleep position.
While you may have seen or heard of other devices online or in stores, most of these are not recommended by sleep experts because their efficacy has not been proven or has been shown to be very low.
Dr Levi offers an initial consultation ($60) during which he can discuss these treatment options with you in detail and give you an idea of which might be appropriate for your unique sleep issues.