Available Options for Treating Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by intermittent stops in breathing. The disorder is caused by a narrowing of the upper airways in the nose, mouth or throat. People with sleep apnea stop breathing for at least 10 seconds while they are asleep. These stops in breathing can happen as many as hundreds of times in a single night and those who have this disorder are unaware of what is happening.
Among the hundreds of identified sleep disorders, sleep apnea is one of the more serious. This is why treating sleep apnea should not be delayed. Sleep apnea is a progressive condition, which means its symptoms can worsen over time and they can actually lead to other serious health conditions. There are a number of options available for treating sleep apnea, and each option have some side effects.
Four basic options for treating sleep apnea are available. They can all be used in constructively.
The first option for treating sleep apnea involves making lifestyle changes. Often sleep apnea sufferers are overweight, are smokers or heavy alcohol and caffeine drinkers, or are taking sedative drugs. Patients are advised to lose weight, ditch the cigarettes, avoid drinking alcohol and taking sedatives. Doctors also advise patients to stick to a regular sleep schedule and try sleeping on their side.
The second, and most common, option for treating sleep apnea involves using a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) mask in order to keep the airway open. The sleep apnea sufferer wears a CPAP mask, which is hooked up to a CPAP machine, while he sleeps. The machine continuously pumps air through the mask and into the nose, keeping the airway open. According to studies, sleep apnea patients who use CPAP report sleeping better and being more alert during the day. In addition, the size, shape and pumping action of their heart were significantly improved.
The third option for treating sleep apnea is making use of oral devices such as a dental splint. Such devices keep the jaw and tongue from falling back and obstructing the airway. Compared to CPAP, oral devices are not as effective. They can also be quite uncomfortable.
The fourth, and most extreme, option for treating sleep apnea is surgery. Patients who have severe apnea undergo this type of treatment. Surgery may involve removing part of the soft palate that hangs down in the back of the throat, as well as the tonsils and other excess soft tissue.
If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, it crucial that you seek treatment right away and that you comply with your prescribed treatment. It can be uncomfortable and annoying to have to wear a dental split or CPAP mask when you sleep, but you’ll eventually get used to it. Understand that such treatments will help you get better sleep and keep the disorder from getting worse.
Those who follow sleep apnea treatment prescribed to them by their doctors report experiencing fewer headaches and improved moods. They also are able to think more clearly, have better concentration and focus, and have better job performance.
Your doctor will base your treatment plan on the severity of your sleep apnea. Your doctor can give you more information about your condition as well as options available for treating sleep apnea. Just remember to stick to the treatment plan your doctor designs for you. Soon enough you’ll be getting quality sleep, and improved quality of life.