Have you been diagnosed with sleep apnea? This disorder manifests with breathing disruptions while sleeping and low saturation levels in the body. Unless treated adequately, it might lead to severe health consequences.
While mild sleep apnea can be treated by making lifestyle changes, the moderate and severe forms of this disorder are usually treated with a CPAP machine, oral appliances, and surgery. Modern treatments include using devices to cure sleep apnea, CPAP therapy, weight loss programs, and sleeping position therapy.
Learn more about these modern treatments in detail.
What is sleep apnea?
It’s known as a disorder that causes breathing interruptions in the course of sleeping. These interruptions last at least ten seconds to a maximum of twenty seconds, happening between five and a hundred times in an hour. During such episodes, individuals tend to wake up because of the lack of oxygen, but the awake time is so short, they don’t even remember waking up multiple times.
Moreover, there are three types of sleep apnea individuals suffer from. The most common one is obstructive sleep apnea, which manifests with breathing interruptions and loud snoring. It happens when the muscles providing support to the upper airway tissue relax while sleeping, which means there’s no normal airflow entering and exiting the mouth and nose.
Central sleep apnea, on the other hand, isn’t as common as the previous type. This variant is related to the central nervous system. Breathing stops when the muscles controlling this function are no longer commanded by the brain to do their job. In this case, snoring is not considered a common symptom.
Ultimately, complex sleep apnea is known as a combination of the obstructive and central type. It’s undeniably the rarest type of this disorder. The symptoms of sleep apnea are difficult to identify, as people are asleep while these occur. Nevertheless, some of the most common symptoms include loud snoring, choking, gasping for breath, daytime fatigue, morning headaches, insomnia, awakenings during the night, etc. See this site to learn everything you need to know about sleep apnea.
If having most of these symptoms, it’s important to get diagnosed with the disorder. The diagnosis relies on the number of episodes one experiences in the course of one hour of sleep. Sleep apnea is classified as mild if the number of breathing episodes ranges between five and fifteen per hour. It’s considered moderate if the episode number is between fifteen and thirty. People suffering from a severe form of the disorder experience over thirty episodes an hour.
Fortunately, this condition can be treated in a variety of ways, ranging from lifestyle treatments to CPAP therapy and surgery. These are some of the most popular treatments and lifestyle changes.
Sleeping position change
One of the simplest changes to make when suffering from sleep apnea is to avoid sleeping on your back. This position is believed to be a risk factor for the development of such a disorder because of the position of the tongue and other tissues while lying on the back.
Due to gravity, the tongue is drawn toward the airway, thus causing disturbances in the breathing process. Switching to another sleeping position is the most effective way of preventing such a constriction of air.
Nevertheless, most individuals find it tough to discourage back sleeping. Tennis ball therapy, however, is believed to provide positive results, as it makes back sleeping almost impossible. You’d have to tape a tennis ball to your pajamas on the backside, which makes the back position uncomfortable.
Another popular treatment of sleep apnea is continuous positive airflow therapy (CPAP). The role of this therapy is to keep an open airway in the course of sleep with the help of a CPAP machine. These devices are equipped with a hose, delivering air to patients through a mask fitted on the nose. CPAP machines constantly pump air in order to impede airway collapse. The following link, https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/sleep-apnea/features/cpap-machine, includes some tips for sleeping easier with a CPAP machine.
In order to obtain such a machine, individuals need a prescription. The choice of mask depends on the patients themselves. Some people choose a full-face mask, covering both the mouth and nose. Others prefer using a mask that only covers the nose area or the area underneath it. As long as you feel comfortable wearing the mask, CPAP therapy is considered remarkably effective in coping with this disorder.
Oral appliances are another effective treatment of sleep apnea in patients unable to tolerate a CPAP device. Individuals can experiment with two types of mouthpieces, mandibular advancement devices (MADs) and tongue retaining devices (TRDs). The job of MADs is to keep the lower jaw forward in order to prevent airway constrictions. These mouthpieces also reduce snoring and teeth grinding, common symptoms of OSA.
Tongue retaining devices, as the name suggests, prevent the tongue from moving to the back of the mouth. In this position, the tongue blocks airflow and causes breathing obstruction. In order to provide results, these mouthpieces should be worn throughout the entire night while sleeping.
Surgery is considered the last resort when it comes to treating sleep apnea, recommended after the other treatments fail to deliver satisfying results. There are multiple surgical options available to patients, such as tissue removal, tissue shrinkage, jaw repositioning, nerve stimulation, etc.
For instance, tissue removal is performed when tissue is removed from the back of the mouth, along with the tonsils and adenoids. Anyhow, in cases of mild sleep apnea, tissue shrinkage is considered less risky. With the help of radiofrequency ablation, tissue is shrunk in the back of the mouth.
Jaw repositioning refers to the procedure of moving the jaw a bit forward in order to increase the space between the soft palate and the tongue. Conversely, nerve stimulation stands for the insertion of a stimulator whose job is to control the movement of the tongue.
The bottom line
If diagnosed with sleep apnea, waste no time to start with treatments!