How is Sleep Apnea Treated
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a potentially dangerous sleep disorder in which breathing stops and starts many times during the night. For example, you might have sleep apnea if you snore loudly and feel tired even after a whole night’s sleep.
The main types of sleep apnea include:
- Obstructive sleep apnea – The more common form that occurs when throat muscles relax
- Central sleep apnea – This occurs when your brain doesn’t send proper signals to the muscles that control your breathing
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome – Also called treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, happens when someone has both obstructive and central sleep apnea.
What are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?
Both obstructive and central sleep apneas have signs and symptoms that are similar to each other. These symptoms can make it hard to tell which type you have, so it is essential to discuss them with your doctor. Most people with obstructive or central sleep apneas may experience the following signs and symptoms:
- Loud snoring
- Episodes in which you stop breathing during sleep, which another person would typically notice
- Gasping for air during sleep
- Awakening with a dry mouth
- Morning headache
- Difficulty staying asleep, known as insomnia
- Excessive daytime sleepiness, known as hypersomnia
- Difficulty paying attention while awake
What are the Causes of Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive Sleep Apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat relax. These muscles support the soft palate, the uvula, the tonsils, the side walls of the throat, and the tongue.
As you breathe in, your airway gets smaller or closes when your muscles relax, and you can’t get enough air, which can cause your blood to have less oxygen. When you stop being able to breathe, your brain briefly wakes you up so you can open your airway again, and most of the time, this awakening is so short that you don’t remember it.
Central Sleep Apnea
This type of sleep apnea is less common and happens when your brain can’t send signals to your breathing muscles. When this signal failure occurs, it means that for a short time, you don’t try to breathe, and you may wake up short of breath or find it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep.
Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea
For milder sleep apnea, your doctor may only suggest changing your lifestyle habits, like losing weight or quitting smoking.
If these steps don’t help or your apnea is moderate to severe, you can try several other treatments listed below.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Machine
If you have moderate to severe sleep apnea, consider using a machine that sends air pressure through a mask while you sleep. With CPAP, the air pressure is slightly higher than the air around you and is just enough to keep your upper airway passages open and prevent sleep apnea and snoring.
Even though CPAP is the most common and effective way to treat sleep apnea, some people find it awkward or uncomfortable. As a result, some people give up on the CPAP machine, but most people learn how to adjust the straps on the mask to get a comfortable and secure fit with practice.
You could also wear a device like a mouthguard that is made to keep your throat open. Oral appliances might be easier to use than CPAP, but it’s more likely that CPAP will work. Some are made to open your throat by moving your jaw forward, which can sometimes help with snoring and mild obstructive sleep apnea.
Your dentist can give you many different tools. Try out a few different ones before you find one that works.
Treatment for Other Medical Issues
Problems with the heart or muscles could cause central sleep apnea; treating those problems could help eliminate your sleep apnea.
Using supplemental oxygen while you sleep might help if you have central sleep apnea. There are different kinds of oxygen and ways to get it to your lungs.
Adaptive Servo-Ventilation (ASV)
This newer airflow device learns how you usually breathe and stores that information in a computer that is built into it. Then, after you fall asleep, the machine applies pressure to your chest to normalize your breathing and keep you from pausing breaths.
Some people with complex sleep apnea seem to do better with ASV than with other types of positive airway pressure.
Most of the time, surgery is only an option after other treatments haven’t worked. Before having surgery, it is usually best to try different treatments for at least three months, but it’s an excellent first choice for many people with specific jaw structure problems.
Some surgical options include:
- Tissue removal
- Tissue shrinkage
- Jaw repositioning
- Nerve stimulation
- Removing tonsils and adenoids
- Weight loss surgery
- Creating a new air passageway, known as a tracheostomy
Self-care helps you deal with obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea in some cases. Here are some self-care and lifestyle changes tips that could help with sleep apnea:
- Lose excess weight
- Regular exercise routine
- Avoid alcohol and certain medications like tranquilizers and sleeping pills.
- Sleep on your side or belly instead of your back
- Do not smoke, and if you do smoke, quit!
Are you struggling with sleep apnea or some of the symptoms associated with it? Have some questions regarding treatment? Look no further! Our trained professionals at Livosa are ready to help you achieve a good night’s sleep again. So take our free assessment, and we will help get your life back on track!