Sleep Apnea is a serious sleeping disorder that requires medical attention. There are many options for treatment from conservative behavioral therapies to surgery.
Below are outlines, in order of degree, the non-surgical treatment options available for someone suffering from Sleep Apnea.
It is very important that Sleep Apnea does not go untreated.
Significant health risks such as heart attack, sudden death, strokes, high blood pressure, decreased productivity in the workplace, automobile accidents and lack of attentiveness are all results of the disorder being left untreated.
A doctor can guide you for the best treatment for the specific symptoms you may be experiencing.
Behavioral therapies– these options for apneic patients are for those who are experiencing mild cases of sleep apnea.
Lose weight: Losing weight can significantly improve an apneic patient’s symptoms. A 10% drop in weight can make a huge difference in the quality of the patient’s sleep. When a patient is overweight, the excess fat enlarges the tissues at the back of the throat, causing excessive fibrillation and closure of the airway while sleeping. Losing weight can reduce this enlarged tissue, freeing the airway which may result in terminating the patient’s snoring or apnea episodes.
STOP THE BAD HABITS: Reducing the ingestion of alcohol, sedatives, sleeping pills and tobacco will reduce the inflammation of the throat, which, in turn, will help stop the snoring and the apnea from occurring. If it is not possible to terminate these habits, severely reducing or ceasing to imbibe shortly before bedtime can assist in minimizing the patient’s snoring and apnea episodes.
Get off your back: Switching from being a back-sleeper to a side-sleeper will avoid the problem of the tongue falling to the back of the throat during sleep, causing the apnea episodes. Pillows can be used to promote side-sleeping and sewing a tennis ball to the back of a nightshirt will force the sleeper to remain sleeping on their side.
Regulate sleeping time: Having a regulated and consistent sleeping schedule will ensure a good night’s sleep. This allows the body to conform to important sleep stages without being disrupted and leading to sleep deprivation.
Sleep Apnea Treatments – Positive pressure therapy:
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)- this treatment requires the patient to wear a mask covering the mouth and/or nose during sleep. An air blower is attached to the mask, forcing air into the upper airway. This constant and continuous air pressure can be regulated and prevents the tissue in the back of the throat from collapsing during sleep. CPAP is not a cure-all, it is required the patient use the device regularly and follow the doctor’s instructions to avoid apnea episodes.
Sleep Apnea Treatments – Oral appliances:
An oral mandibular device can be molded and constructed to individually fit the patient’s mouth structure. This device will prevent the occlusion of the throat and bring the patient’s jaw forward while lying down, keeping the airway free from obstruction during sleep. A dentist who specializes in sleep apnea treatment is optimal for this type of treatment.