Treating Sleep Apnea
Many people may assume their sleep apnea symptoms—snoring, excessive daytime fatigue, morning headaches—to be commonplace, everyday occurrences. The truth is, you do not have to endure sleep apnea. Treatments are available and oftentimes prove effective in producing a sharp decline in symptom occurrence. Although treating sleep apnea is difficult, it can be beneficial for your overall health.
What Are the Benefits of Treating Sleep Apnea?
Many sleep apnea symptoms are livable, some no worse than those related to PMS, menopause, or common medication side effects. Because of this, many people forego treatment altogether. The American Sleep Apnea Association reports roughly 80% of moderate to severe cases go undiagnosed and thus untreated. Recent medical studies prove that treating sleep apnea can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Where Does Treatment Begin?
The first go-to treatment for sleep apnea is most often recommended lifestyle changes. These require the patient to be proactive in order to experience relief from sleep apnea symptoms. On a case-by-case basis, doctors may recommend one or more of the following steps are taken in an effort at treating sleep apnea:
- Weight loss
Extra weight, especially around the neck area, has been linked to sleep apnea. Even losing a small amount of weight can improve symptoms.
- Avoid alcohol and sedatives
These both serve as muscle relaxers, which can cause the back of the tongue to collapse and block your airway.
- Quit smoking
Ask your doctor for advice or recommended products to use to help with this endeavor.
- Sleep on your side or your stomach
Sleeping on your back can cause your throat to close up. You can buy special pillows or shirts to discourage sleeping on your back.
- Open up your nasal passages
Nasal sprays or allergy medicines can help a lot when it comes to sleep apnea related breathing problems
What Other Treatments Are There?
If lifestyle changes prove less than effective, our sleep apnea dentist may order a custom-fitted mouthpiece made for you to wear during sleep. This dental appliance gently pushes the jaw or the tongue forward in order to keep your throat open. CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) is an effective treatment involving pressurized air dispensed through a mask while you sleep. For some severe cases of sleep apnea, surgery may be recommended.