Sleep apnea can significantly disrupt a person’s daily life. Treatment of this sleep disorder is of particular importance not only because of its potential impact on health but also because it can be fatal. Luckily there are many treatments available. Most of these seek to eliminate problematic symptoms to allow a person to sleep soundly and breath fully throughout the night.
Severity and cause of the disorder are primary in determining which treatment is appropriate. Success of treatment often depends on a patients ability to follow through with treatment plans and follow up with doctors.
Following are primary sleep apnea treatments.
1. Changing lifestyle. Behavior therapy is perhaps one of the most effective methods for treating and even curing sleep apnea. Many cases of sleep apnea are the result of factors we have power to change. For example, most people suffering from this and many other sleep disorders are overweight. Indeed, obesity is commonly associated with sleep disorders. Often the most sensible treatment is to manage one’s weight. Sometimes a mere drop of ten pounds is sufficient to provide results.
Another change that can lead to positive results is to modify your sleeping position. Most sleep apnea symptoms occur while sleeping on the back. Sometimes making a concerted effort to sleep on one’s side will eliminate much of the problem. While sleeping on the back (especially while overweight) the relaxed muscles of the throat sometimes aren’t enough to keep the the airway from partially collapsing.
2. Other conditions. Sleep apnea can be the result of other medical conditions or even treatments of these conditions. If you discover your sleep disorder is the result of other conditions, then effectively treating these conditions may solve your problem.
3. Medical devices. Depending on how severe your particular case is, there are several different kinds of devices that could offer relief. The most effective is Continuous Positive Air Pressure, or CPAP. CPAP is essential for treating more severe cases of sleep apnea. A patient must wear a face mask while sleeping. This mask is attached to a machine that pushes just enough air into your airways to keep them from collapsing. Variations of this device could be used effectively too.
Often the mouthpiece used with these machines is designed by a dentist to fit perfectly around your mouth. It resembles a an athletic mouth guard. This device must be worn each night for successful reduction of symptoms.
4. Surgery. Some severe cases of apnea are the result of obvious physical problems like excess skin or other areas in the throat that are malformed. These problems can make it difficult to breathe while sleeping. Surgery is a potential solution. However, the vast majority of cases do not require surgery.
Surgical procedures generally remove the problem. This could be enlarged tonsils or soft palate. It could be a reduction of tissue in the throat or even tissue on the neck. Surgery doesn’t always work, it carries an inherent risk, and costs much more money than other treatment options. It should only be considered if other treatment options aren’t possible.
For most sufferers of sleep apnea, effective treatment depends on personal commitment. Aside from surgery, results will only be had if the patient make a commitment to make necessary changes. Whether this is through losing weight or giving up smoking, success remains on personal commitment. Even using a CPAP machine effectively requires forming the habit of wearing the mask night after night.
The prospect of being healthy and no longer suffering from sleepless nights should be motivator enough. It is reassuring to know that most cases can be cured without having to resort to surgery. If you have sleep apnea, then talk to your doctor about which treatment is most appropriate for your particular case.