Many Americans who snore suffer from at least a mild version of sleep apnea, a condition that can cause people to briefly, but frequently, stop breathing during the night. As the body relaxes and settles into a deep sleep, any loose tissue from the back of your mouth or throat may relax as well, falling over your airway and shocking you into a quick wakeup. But while mild cases of sleep apnea may not be life-altering, severe sleep apnea can significantly increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, and other serious conditions. Read on to learn more about some of the most effective treatment options for severe sleep apnea. 

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Machine

Sleep apnea prevents you from getting a good night's sleep. Even if you don't remember waking up in the night, your body becomes alert each time it is temporarily deprived of oxygen. For some, this means waking up a hundred times or more during the night to restart the breathing process. 

A CPAP machine improves your sleep quality by providing a constant source of airway pressure. This machine is able to detect when your breathing pattern slows down and can literally force extra air through your nose and mouth to prevent your airway from closing. All you have to do is strap the CPAP mask over your nose and/or mouth before you go to sleep, 

CPAP machines aren't always right for everyone. Although these machines have made significant strides in size, noise level, and convenience, some people just can't get used to falling asleep with the sensation of something over their face. And in rare cases, a CPAP machine alone may not be enough to sufficiently treat your sleep apnea symptoms.

Oral Surgery 

If you've tried a CPAP machine to no avail, or if your sleep apnea is severe enough that it's already causing you some health problems, oral surgery may be the answer. Sometimes, by trimming your uvula and removing your tonsils and any excess skin from the back of your throat, an oral surgeon will be able to clear your airway during deep sleep and reduce your apnea symptoms. 

Oral surgery generally isn't the first treatment choice, and you'll likely be required to undergo an evaluation and sleep study and use a CPAP machine for at least a few weeks. Once these less-invasive measures have been ruled out, you can work with your surgeon to schedule your operation date.