The most easily marked symptoms of sleep apnea—snoring, frequent breath stoppages, and sudden awakenings—occur during sleep. This often makes it difficult for sufferers to even recognize they have sleep apnea. Sleeping partners are frequently the first to identify certain symptoms, especially disruptive snoring. Every year, many cases of sleep apnea go undiagnosed and thus untreated. Curing sleep apnea can be difficult, but oftentimes it is rather simple.
Healthy Lifestyle Changes
When it comes to curing sleep apnea, oftentimes all that is needed is a change in lifestyle, the most common one being weight loss. A significant amount of sleep apnea sufferers are overweight or obese, so committing to a healthy diet and routine exercise plan can positively impact sleep apnea. Aside from losing weight, quitting smoking can help, as smoke irritates the throat and nasal passages. Try avoiding alcohol and sedatives, as these relax the throat and tongue. Getting enough sleep every night and cutting out caffeine and heavy meals before bedtime can also lead to improved sleep apnea symptoms.
Medical Treatment Options
If doctor-recommended lifestyle changes fail to produce satisfactory outcomes, there are other ways of curing sleep apnea. Dental devices resembling sports mouthguards are custom made and fitted to be worn during sleep. One type of device holds your tongue forward, while another gently causes the lower jaw to protrude, freeing up breathing space behind the tongue. Pressurized air machines like CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) dispense air through a hose and into a mask placed over your nose. Intended to open up your airway, this machine is highly effective at relieving snoring and other common sleep apnea symptoms, though some find it uncomfortable to wear.
Surgical Treatment Options
Surgery is a last resort as far as curing sleep apnea. Sleep apnea surgery tends to be expensive, invasive, and is not always effective in markedly improving symptoms. Surgery often reduces snoring, but deeper issues relating to obstructive sleep apnea are not always impacted by surgical means. The most common way to cure sleep apnea via surgery is through a uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), a procedure where throat tissue is removed in an effort to ease breathing.
For further questions regarding sleep apnea treatments, schedule a consultation with our sleep apnea doctor.