Sleep apnea is a potentially life-threatening condition characterized by irregular breathing during sleep. The main treatments recommended are lifestyle changes and the use of medical devices, but in some cases, surgery may be necessary to help reduce symptoms. In this article, we take a look at the available treatments for sleep apnea and their effectiveness for different types of the disorder.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a common sleep-related breathing disorder, characterized by repetitive pauses in breathing during sleep. These irregularities cause disruption of normal sleeping patterns, and can have serious health implications if left untreated. Symptoms of sleep apnea include daytime fatigue, snoring, loud snoring, difficulty staying asleep at night, and frequent chocking or gasping during sleep. Diagnosis requires evaluation of both medical history and possibly additional tests such as an overnight sleep study or pulmonologist referral.
Symptoms and Risks Associated With Sleep Apnea.
The most common symptom associated with sleep apnea is loud snoring, though other symptoms could include daytime fatigue, changes in mood and behavior, difficulty staying asleep at night and frequent chocking or gasping during sleep. Risks associated with untreated sleep apnea can be serious and include increased risk of stroke, heart attack, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, depression and more.
Understanding the Types of Treatment Available.
Correcting sleep apnea can involve lifestyle changes, oral appliance therapy or CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machines. Lifestyle changes such as avoiding alcohol and cigarettes before going to bed, sleeping on your side instead of your back, and losing weight may help with mild cases of sleep apnea. For moderate to severe cases, a doctor may suggest an oral appliance such as a mandibular advancement device or a CPAP machine. A CPAP machine uses a steady stream of air to keep the airways open while you sleep.
Tips for Better Sleep Hygiene and Improved Sleep Quality.
To improve sleep hygiene and sleep quality, it's important to practice good habits that can be beneficial for those with sleep apnea. For starters, try to keep regular sleeping schedules; establish a pre-bedtime routine such as reading instead of looking at screens; avoid heavy meals before bed; get regular exercise; reduce stress throughout the day by meditating or taking a break from chores; and make sure you have good air circulation in your bedroom. If you're still having trouble getting quality sleep, talk to your doctor about other options for treating your sleep apnea.
How to Find Professional Help for Your Sleep Apnea.
If you think you may have sleep apnea, it’s important to consult a doctor. Your primary care doctor or a pulmonologist can diagnose sleep apnea with a physical exam and assessment of your health history. Other tests, such as an overnight sleep study, polysomnography, or home sleep test may also be recommended by your doctor. The treatments for sleep apnea will vary depending on the severity of the condition and can include lifestyle changes, use of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines, dental appliances designed to keep the airways open while sleeping, and even surgery in more severe cases.