Like many medical problems, the question is “does it need treatment?” The answer depends on whether it is mild, moderate or severe. The parallel question is whether someone with arthritis of the knee will benefit from a knee replacement - yes if the arthritis is severe and affecting their quality of life. Sleep apnoea usually needs treatment for one of two reasons:
The sleep apnoea is moderate or severe - because of the associated risks of sleep apnoea (high blood pressure etc.)
Or the symptoms are severe enough to warrant treatment - to improve quality of life (this may include mild OSA).
Therefore it is important to know whether the sleep apnoea is mild, moderate or severe and this requires sleep studies (polysomnography).The usual initial treatment offered is CPAP (continuous positive airways pressure) so I'm assuming this treatment has not worked out for your son. There is quite a high failure rate of CPAP for a variety of reasons eg. not well tolerated, masks not fitting. Under these circumstances, it may be worth considering an assessment for surgery. I've counted 17 different types of surgery for OSA although less than 10 are mainstream. So this is a complex area. The point to make is that there may well be alternatives to CPAP. Those with moderate or severe OSA should really not “give up” at the stage of perhaps failing CPAP therapy. It's well worth exploring surgical options with a specialist OSA Surgeon.It's quite common for GP's to see people who have tried CPAP (for moderate or severe OSA) and havn't gone any further. This is a problem because the untreated moderate or severe sleep apnoea has long term issues for health - quality of life, mental performance, driving risks, high blood pressure and cardiovascular risks. So there are now lots of surgical options and evidence is building that there are improved outcomes for selected surgery.
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