Saturday, May 21, 2011

Effective Sleep Apnea Treatments

Because sleep apnea can prove to be distressing and fatal, undergoing treatment is necessary.  Sleep apnea treatments are designed to meet two goals, one to relieve symptoms and two to normalize breathing patterns.

Treatments depend on the severity of the disorder.  However, the effectiveness of the treatments is partially dependent on regular follow-ups and communication you’re your doctor.    

For your guidance, here are the treatments for sleep apnea.

1. Lifestyle changes.  Also called behavioral therapy, lifestyle changes are aimed at treating mild cases of sleep apnea by adjusting habits, activities, and lifestyle.  For instance, losing weight can significantly alleviate sleep apnea since obesity can contribute to the narrowing of the airway.  It’s also important to avoid alcohol, sedatives, and other medications that can further relax throat muscles and may cause sleepiness.

Tobacco should also be avoided.  Moreover, studies have shown that sleeping on your back rather than on your side can help people with sleep apnea.  Sleeping on your back is said to relax the tongue and palate more and thus open up the airway.  The use of saline nasal sprays is also helpful in keeping the nasal passages open.

2. Treatments for co-existing medical conditions.  Sleep apnea may either be the cause or result of other medical conditions.  Treatments for such diseases or disorders can help alleviate sleep apnea.

3. Devices.  Breathing and oral devices are used in treating different severities of sleep apnea.  Examples are continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) and mouthpiece.  Recommended for people with moderate and severe apnea, CPAP is a mask-like device connected to a machine.  CPAP is worn over the nose while sleeping and delivers pressurized air to prevent the airway from narrowing.

Mouthpiece, on the other hand, is designed specifically by a dentist or orthodontist.  It is a custom-fit dental device that resembles the common athletic mouth guard.  It prevents sleep apnea by adjusting the lower jaw and tongue, thus keeping the airway open.  Other devices include bi-level positive air pressure (BiPAP) and adaptive servo-ventilation (ASV).

4. Surgery.  Surgery’s main purpose is to keep the airway wide and open, thereby allowing the free flowing of air.  Surgery is normally done on people with severe sleep apnea, but which surgical operation to perform is based on the cause.  There is surgery that removes excess tissue from the throat and soft palate that blocks the airway.  Other types of surgery, meanwhile, shrinks tissue in the mouth and throat.

In some types of surgery, enlarged tonsils and adenoids are removed while other types involve reconstruction of the lower jaw.  The types of surgery for treating sleep apnea is known to confer long-term and even permanent benefits, but since surgery can be sometimes risky, it is best to consider other sleep apnea treatments first before undergoing any surgery.

The success of sleep apnea treatments still lies on the person’s commitment since some mentioned treatments may be quite challenging to sustain.  Take, for instance, the lifestyle changes.  Expectedly, it won’t be as easy for some people to lose weight or kick alcohol as it is for others.

However, knowing that altering or adjusting some habits or activities can improve the course of their day and even their life can be enough for motivation.  In the end, it is still about healthy living as well as about taking steps toward eliminating the dangers of sleep apnea.

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