The importance of sleep cannot be overemphasized. Unfortunately, many individuals cannot relate to the concept of enjoying quality sleep as they suffer from a sleep disorder called sleep apnea. It is a condition where the person who suffers from sleep apnea experiences pauses in breathing during sleep.
Due to this, it affects their sleep pattern and they cannot sleep for long. Dealing with sleep apnea can be a nightmare and it takes a toll on your health.
In this article, we will break down treatment options for sleep apnea, and share holistic ways to manage sleep apnea.
At Bedford Dental Group, we understand the impact of sleep apnea on life expectancy. That is why we preach the importance of getting timely and effective treatment.
With over 30 years of experience in the industry, we provide solutions that are tailored to individual needs. Contact us today for a consultation to determine the best way to improve your sleep.
Understanding Sleep Apnea
In this section, we will look at the types of sleep apnea. We will also see common symptoms and risk factors of this sleep disorder. In addition, we will look at the connection between sleep apnea and chronic diseases.
Types of Sleep Apnea
We have three main types of sleep apnea. They are:
Obstructive Sleep Apnea: A greater percentage of people who suffer from this sleep disorder have Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) as it is the commonest. It occurs when the muscles at the back of the throat relax excessively during sleep. When this happens, it causes partial or complete blockage of the upper airway.
Central Sleep Apnea: For this sleep disorder, the brain fails to send the right signals to the muscles that control breathing. It differs from OSA as there is no physical blockage in the airway.
Complex Sleep Apnea: This is a combination of both Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Central Sleep Apnea. It is a more severe sleep apnea and often needs emergency treatment.
It is necessary to understand which type of sleep apnea you are suffering from because of the gravity and the treatment options for central vs obstructive sleep apnea differ.
Common Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Below are some common indicators of sleep apnea:
Breathing Cessation: Sleep apnea patients usually experience cessation of breath while sleeping. These pauses in breathing can last from seconds to minutes. It is usually accompanied by choking or gasping sounds when the person resumes breathing. Thus, leading to interruption of sleep.
Loud Snoring: For those who have obstructive sleep apnea, loud snoring is a common symptom. It is also accompanied by pauses in breathing.
Weird Sleep Pattern: Sleep apnea usually affects the quality of sleep individuals get at night. Due to this, people with sleep apnea usually experience excessive daytime sleepiness. It affects their regular activities planned for the day. Often, they wake up with headaches caused by the restlessness at night. The headaches are also a result of decreased oxygen and increased carbon dioxide levels during sleep apnea episodes.
Diagnosing Sleep Apnea
Of course, you should see a specialist before declaring you have sleep apnea. Some steps taken for diagnosing sleep apnea are:
Clinical Evaluation: Here, you meet with a professional or healthcare provider who conducts an examination and goes through your medical history. The professional will ask you questions about your sleep patterns and any symptoms you may be having.
Polysomnography: This is a test procedure that studies/monitors your sleep. The test records different activities when you’re sleeping like your heart rate, eye movement, brain activity, oxygen levels, etc.
Risk Factors of Sleep Apnea
Several factors increase the risk of developing sleep apnea. Some of them are:
Weight gain: Excessive weight could lead to obstruction of the airway, especially when there is an accumulation of fat around the neck.
Age: Those above age 60 are at a higher risk of having sleep apnea.
Gender: Typically, men have a higher risk of developing sleep apnea than women. However, women are also at risk when weight gain occurs as obesity is a significant risk factor.
Smoking and drug use: Smoking increases inflammation and fluid retention in the airway. The use of substances and alcohol are also risk factors as they relax the muscles in the throat and increase the chances of obstruction.
Family and medical history: If you have family members with sleep apnea, there is a high likelihood of you also being at risk. Your medical history could also contribute to developing sleep apnea. For example, you’ve previously had strokes or heart attacks.
Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions are associated with an increased risk of sleep apnea. Hypertension and type 2 diabetes are some examples.
Sleeping position: You are likely to increase the risk of airway obstruction and developing sleep apnea if you sleep on your back.
Complications of Untreated Sleep Apnea
If you continue with untreated sleep apnea, some likely complications are:
Cardiovascular Disease: Untreated sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure. It can also result in insulin resistance. This increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Daytime Tiredness: Poor sleep quality from sleep apnea can lead to daytime tiredness. This impairs cognitive functions and reduces productivity.
Surgical Complications: People with untreated sleep apnea may develop complications during surgeries. It can further result in depression of the respiratory system.
Decreased Quality of Life: You will always have constant tiredness and sleepiness when dealing with untreated sleep apnea. It significantly reduces the overall quality of an individual’s life and reduces life expectancy.
Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea
It is important to keep in mind that no two individuals are the same. It is always best to work closely with a healthcare provider or professional to know the best treatment approach to use for your sleep apnea.
Let’s explore some of the common treatment options for sleep apnea:
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
The CPAP machine is a common and highly effective treatment for people with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It involves wearing a mask over the nose or nose and mouth during sleep. The mask is connected to a machine that delivers a continuous stream of air to keep the airway open.
CPAP helps prevent the collapse of the airway. Unfortunately, it is not a compatible treatment option for everyone as some people might react badly to it. If you are looking for a custom sleep apnea solution contact us now – we at Bedford Dental Group have your health and comfort in mind.
Bi-level Positive Airway Pressure (BiPAP)
This treatment method is similar to CPAP. However, it adjusts the pressure during the breathing cycle. It provides a higher pressure during inhalation and a lower pressure during exhalation. It comes as an alternative for sleep apnea patients who have difficulty tolerating the constant pressure of CPAP, or for those with certain medical conditions.
Auto-adjusting Positive Airway Pressure (APAP)
The APAP machine automatically adjusts the air pressure based on the patient’s needs throughout the night. It can adapt to variations in breathing patterns.
Adaptive Servo-Ventilation (ASV)
As the name implies, this method is more adaptive. It adjusts the airflow based on the individual’s breathing pattern. It is often used for treating central sleep apnea or severe sleep apnea syndrome.
In going the surgical route, some options are:
Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP): It is a surgical procedure that removes excess tissue from the throat to widen the airway. It is an effective sleep apnea treatment in treating snoring, mild sleep apnea, and moderate sleep apnea.
Genioglossus Advancement (GA): It involves repositioning the tongue attachment to prevent airway collapse. It aids in treating sleep apnea for people who have a small lower jaw.
Maxillomandibular Advancement (MMA): It repositions the upper and lower jaw to enlarge the airway. It is an effective option for severe sleep apnea.
Inspire Therapy: This is an implantable device that stimulates the hypoglossal nerve. It prevents the airway from collapsing during sleep. It helps individuals with moderate sleep apnea and severe sleep apnea.
Managing Sleep Apnea: A Holistic Approach
Managing sleep apnea requires a holistic and individualistic approach. While medical treatments for sleep apnea are necessary, some personal changes also have to be made.
It is best to view sleep apnea as a disorder caused by various factors. These factors range from physiological to lifestyle, and even environmental elements.
Addressing these factors enhances the overall effectiveness of the treatment process. They help to improve life expectancy, leading to a long and healthy life.
Some helpful steps in maintaining a holistic approach are:
Integrate Lifestyle Changes With Medical Treatment
You must be intentional about certain lifestyle changes. Firstly, you should start by quitting and avoiding sleep apnea risk factors. Weight management is one of the most important in this process, as it greatly reduces the strain on one’s airways.
Avoiding alcohol and sedatives is also beneficial as they increase the likelihood of airway collapse. It would also help if you start sleeping on your side instead of your back.
Maintaining a regular sleep schedule is a necessary step that must not be missed. It helps regulate circadian rhythms and improves sleep quality.
Monitoring and Adjusting Treatment Over Time
Regular follow-up appointments with healthcare professionals help to monitor the effectiveness of your chosen treatment method. These professionals check and make necessary adjustments over time.
For those using the CPAP sleep apnea method, you must ensure compliance with CPAP therapy. Periodic assessment and adjustment of CPAP settings may be necessary to optimize therapy.
You can also indulge in periodic sleep studies to check the effectiveness of the sleep apnea treatments over time. In addition, it is important to always maintain an open communication system with your healthcare provider.
Lifestyle Changes and Home Remedies
Some helpful lifestyle changes to incorporate are:
Throat exercises: They help strengthen the muscles and reduce the likelihood of airway collapse.
Elevate the head of the bed: It can help reduce snoring and improve breathing.
Use humidifiers: They help prevent dryness in the airway and reduce snoring.
Yoga: It helps to relieve some sleep apnea symptoms.
Use nasal decongestants: They are helpful for individuals with nasal congestion that leads to sleep apnea.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can people with sleep apnea live long?
Untreated sleep apnea can shorten life expectancy as it sometimes leads to premature death. Although sleep apnea affects mostly older people, everyone is still at risk. Once you notice sleep apnea symptoms, reach out to your healthcare professional immediately.
Does sleep apnea go away?
Treating sleep apnea brings about significant positive changes to your health and lifestyle. Although sleep apnea does not completely go away, life expectancy with treated sleep apnea is far better than when left untreated.
Which sleeping position is best for sleep apnea?
It is best advised to sleep on your side or stomach to treat sleep apnea.
The consequences of untreated sleep apnea can be severe. That is why you need to start seeking effective sleep apnea treatments now for a healthier tomorrow!
At Bedford Dental Group, our commitment to patient well-being extends beyond conventional methods. We make sure to tailor our solutions to your needs!
Contact us today for a free consultation with our experienced sleep apnea dentists to know what sleep apnea treatment method would be suited for you. Your journey to a better sleep begins with us! Take charge, don’t let sleep apnea compromise your health!