Suffering from sleep apnea? Here is your list of treatments options
There are many available treatments for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The gold standard in treatment is the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device with sleep apnea mask. For those who find it hard to adjust using CPAP, you may try adjusting the sleep apnea mask, practice wearing it during the day or before you sleep, as well as steadily increasing CPAP pressure.
Other users look for other treatment methods available.
Other options to treat OSA include weight loss, using disposable nasal valves, sleeping on a wedge pillow, oral appliances, and even surgery. One of the latest treatment available is an implanted pacemaker that makes the tongue tighten when a person breathes, which keepsit from blocking the airway.
About 25 percent of people who suffer from OSA have positional OSA, which occurs mainly when they lie on their backs. People with this case are recommended to sleep either against a wedge pillow, or stuff a fanny pack and wear it at night. This will keep you from lying on your back.
Obese people are generally more prone to OSA, that’s why many doctors consider weight loss as a potential solution. About 75 percent of all sleep apnea is linked to weight because the fact around the airways makes it smaller and easier to compress, causing the constriction, snoring, and apnea when sleeping. Losing weight in this case can make the problem go away.
Oral and nasal devices
There are disposable nasal valves, which can adhere like bandage strips and help with mild sleep apnea. These nifty tools are placed at the nostril openings to slow exhalation and keep the airway open. They only cost a few dollars apiece, but they have around 40 percent efficacy in mild to moderate cases.
More expensive options may include a custom, more comfortable CPAP and sleep apnea mask that’s formed to your face or an oral appliance that puts the jaw in a forward position, stopping the tongue from collapsing and blocking the airway. Oral appliances are fitted by dentists and is about 80 to 90 percent effective. It may cause slight jaw pain, and may cause the teeth to move, though. Also, it won’t work if you don’t have enough teeth.
If you’re looking for natural solutions, check out the list of little known natural remedies below:
Mouth and throat exercise
This is achieved through orofacial exercises wherein you’ll be encouraged to exercise the muscles of your entire mouth, throat, tongue, soft palate, and jaw. Clinical studies show that orofacial exercise may help alleviate sleep apnea. However, you need to do the exercise daily and consistently for it to work. A three-month regiment can yield the following results:
- Decreased intensity and frequency of snoring.
- Increase in sleep quality.
- Decrease in daytime sleepiness.
- An overall decrease in the severity of obstructive sleep apnea.
In other cases of OSA, all a sufferer needs to do is to start with the basics, and while the idea of sleep hygiene may sound ineffective, it is a wise first step in alleviating sleep disorders like sleep apnea. It helps by assessing and monitoring the things you do throughout the day and the hours before you sleep. It includes:
- Creating a consistent sleep routine that’s the same for weekdays and weekends.
- Elimination of caffeinated drinks in the afternoon.
- Elimination of afternoon naps, or limiting it to less than half an hour daily.
- Applying a nighttime routine that concentrates on relaxation before sleeping.
- Forming a serene and quiet room for sleeping. You can attain this by removing all electronic devices from your bedroom.
Didgeridoo is an Australian wind instrument that has been found to alleviate the symptoms of OSA by strengthening the airway muscles. A strengthened airway is effective in treating sleep apnea.Patients who were committed to playing the instrument for a couple of minutes daily resulted in a reduction of OSA symptoms. All reported better quality of sleep.
Yoga training exercises
One of the worst risks of untreated sleep apnea is lessened oxygen intake of the body. Oxygen deprivation can lead to fatigue, depression, and even grave illnesses such as stroke and heart attack. Applying yoga breathing exercises can strengthen the diaphragm, which leads to more oxygen intake.
Alternative herbal infusions
The scientific community has highlighted some herbal remedies for people suffering from sleep apnea. A couple of them are good enough to treat symptoms, but all can naturally help to sedate/calm you so that you’ll be able to attain a more restful night of sleep.
Both Lavender and chamomile teas can aid in calming the nervous system to treat insomnia. Some studies show that drinking these teas before going to sleep can help people fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Lavender and chamomile extracts have anti-inflammatory and respiratory benefits that can help people with OSA.
Vices to quit:
Quit smoking.Cigarette smoking can worsen the swelling of the upper airway, making obstructive sleep apnea and snoring worse.
Avoid alcohol. Consuming alcohol causes frequent nighttime awakening, and lets the upper airway breathing muscles relax, which causes snoring and eventually sleep apnea.
Surgery. For people who’ve already tried everything but haven’t find success, surgery is the last resort. Procedures can range from removing some tissue in the back of the throat to shortening the tissue that hangs down (uvula). This procedure is around 40 percent effective. Cutting and repositioning the jawbone is around 75 to 80 percent effective, but is painful and comes with a long recovery time.
The latest treatment as stated in the beginning of the article is an implanted pacemaker-like device that’s called a hypoglossal nerve stimulator. It works to stimulate the tongue by tightening it when you breathe in, keeping it from collapsing and blocking the airway. It has been shown to improve OSA by around 70 percent. It’s not meant for people who are extremely overweight or those who are experiencing severe sleep apnea.
Now that you’re armed with the knowledge about the treatments you can choose to treat your OSA, it’s time to spring into action. Start by consulting with your doctor or a sleep expert. Follow the first-hand advice from your doctor. Of course, you can supplement it with your own knowledge. Best of luck!