Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. Those who have sleep apnea stop breathing many times during their sleep. When this happens, the brain and the body may not get enough oxygen. There are several sleep apnea treatments that provide help for this sleep disorder. There are two types of sleep apnea; obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the airway is blocked.
- Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe.
You may be more at risk for sleep apnea if you are male, overweight, over the age of 40, have a large neck, large tonsils, or a large tongue, have a family history of sleep apnea, or have a nasal obstruction. Keep in mind, if sleep apnea is not treated, it can heighten the risk of certain health problems such as high blood pressure, heart failure, depression, headaches or diabetes. Symptoms of sleep apnea may be waking up with a very dry throat, loud snoring, sleepiness during the day, sleepiness when driving, restless sleep, forgetfulness or insomnia. If you see your doctor with symptoms of sleep apnea, he or she may ask you to take a sleep apnea test. Once sleep apnea is determined, then you have several treatment options to consider such as:
1. Oral sleep devices
Wearing an oral sleep device prevents the airway from collapsing. This oral device holds the tongue in position by sliding the patient’s jaw forward and allowing one to breathe better while sleeping.
Surgery for sleep apnea reduces or eliminates the extra tissue in your throat that blocks your airway during sleep. As with some surgeries, surgery for sleep apnea may include pain, bleeding, and uncomfortable feelings for several days after the surgery and may include an overnight stay at the hospital.
3. CPAP therapy
For some, CPAP therapy is effective. CPAP (or continuous positive airway pressure) is a machine that’s worn during sleep and sends a constant flow of airway pressure to a person’s throat. It ensures that the airway stays open during sleep.
4. Weight loss
An additional treatment plan is to undergo a weight management program. It is important to note; losing weight can help improve or end your sleep apnea symptoms.
5. Positional therapy
Positional therapy works for some. This kind of therapy is a behavioral strategy that treats positional sleep apnea. With this strategy, a person sleeps on his or her side. In addition, with this strategy a person may have to wear a special device around their waist or back. In some cases, cognitive behavioral therapy may be effective. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps a person to eliminate thoughts and behaviors that prevent him or her from getting restful sleep or complying with apnea treatment.
6. Other lifestyle changes
For milder cases of sleep apnea, doctors may recommend lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking or losing weight.