Information on Sleep Apnea Treatments
- Sleep apnea can have many different causes, so there are different treatments for each person.
- Figuring out the best treatment is best done through the guidance of a doctor.
- Reducing alcohol intake, avoiding sleeping on your back, and maintaining a healthy body weight are all advisable.
- Treating mild sleep apnea is not always mandatory, and there are a variety of ways to approach it.
- Continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP is often suggested for people with moderate to severe sleep apnea.
- For mild to moderate sleep apnea, oral appliances can be helpful.
- If there is a noticeable obstruction in the nose or throat, surgery could be needed.
Sleep Apnea Definition and Diagnosis
Obstructive sleep apnea or OSA is when airflow is intermittently blocked at the back of the throat during sleep. Those that snore heavily, have obesity, are tired throughout the day, and have their apneas observed are likely candidates for a sleep apnea diagnosis. To truly be diagnosed you will typically need to undergo home sleep tests or an overnight sleep test at a hospital or lab followed by a clinical assessment.
How Can I Treat It?
There are numerous treatment possibilities depending on your case of sleep apnea. Your treatment could be a combination of the treatments below:
- Reduced Alcohol Intake: Since alcohol relaxes the muscles, it can have the potential to make OSA and snoring worse. The effects of alcohol can vary from person to person, so avoiding alcohol near bedtime could be beneficial for you.
- Weight Loss: While this is not guaranteed to remedy your OSA entirely, losing weight if you are overweight can lessen snoring and other OSA symptoms. More excess weight means more fatty tissue that can impede airflow in your throat.
- Sleep Positioning: OSA and snoring are only augmented when you sleep on your back due to gravity pulling down the tongue and fatty tissues over your airway. Sleeping on your side fixes this problem to an extent; you may want to prop yourself with a pillow or other device to ensure you don’t roll over.
- CPAP: Continuous positive airway pressure machines are usually the most effective treatment for sleep apnea. They usually involve you wearing a mask that is connected to a machine that gently pumps air pressure to hold your throat open. This greatly helps with snoring and OSA and drastically improves overall sleep quality.
- Nose Congestion: Sinus disease, allergies, a deviated septum, and other issues that inhibit nose airflow cause heavier mouth breathing and this can lead to OSA. Nasal sprays or surgery could be the best course of action for your specific brand of nose congestion.
- Oral Appliances: These are basically dental plates or mouth guards that adjust the positioning of the tongue and/or jaw to widen the throat’s airway. They are also called mandibular repositioning appliances (MRA), mandibular advancement splints (MAS), or mandibular advancement devices (MAD).
- Surgery: A surgery may be required for some OSA patients where blockage is occurring in the throat or nose. These operations could vary greatly depending on your circumstances. Surgery is normally viewed as a last resort solution, and you will want to carefully assess the risks and the benefits. Nose surgery could enhance future CPAP treatments, allowing you to wear nasal masks.