If you live with sleep apnea, you are in good company. Over 18 million Americans suffer from this condition, which prevents them from breathing as they should while they sleep. Sleep apnea disorders impact a person’s quality of life in a number of ways. People with sleep apnea snore loudly, which impacts their partner’s ability to sleep (and is the most obvious symptom that leads to a diagnoses). Sleep apnea patients tend to get poor sleep at night, which makes it difficult to focus and concentrate throughout the day, and can lead to secondary illness like migraines. The overall sense of feeling poorly makes sleep apnea patients irritable, and sometimes leads to depression. In some cases, sleep apnea is life threatening.
The good news is, the sleep apnea treatments available today are more effective than ever before, and can significantly improve a patient’s health. After getting a sleep apnea diagnoses, a doctor might suggest the following treatments, based on the severity of your condition:
- Lifestyle Changes
In some cases, the sleep apnea is triggered or worsened by the unhealthy habits of the patient. A few simple lifestyle changes that a doctor might recommend to treat or improve sleep apnea include:
- Losing weight. It is possible for a person who is in a healthy weight range to suffer from sleep apnea, but there is a strong link between sleep apnea and obesity. If you are overweight and suffer from sleep apnea, your doctor will probably recommend a healthy diet and exercise regimen to improve your sleeping.
- Giving up tobacco. You probably already expected this one. Smoking is bad for you in a number of ways. In terms of sleep apnea, tobacco cause inflammation of the airways, which narrows the passages for oxygen to flow. If you are a smoker who suffers from sleep apnea, giving up cigarettes might significantly improve your quality of sleep.
- Cutting alcohol consumption. Alcohol is a depressant, which means it relaxes the muscles. When you consume alcohol, the muscles in the air passages slacken, which makes them more likely to cause obstructions during sleep.
- Mouthpieces for Sleep Apnea
Using mouthpieces for sleep apnea treatments are both effective and less obstructive as the loud and cumbersome sleep apnea machines. Mouthpieces for sleep apnea are beneficial for a number of ways. Many times, the blockage in the patient’s air passages is caused by the tongue slumping over the back of the throat; the mouthpieces for sleep apnea are designed to ensure that doesn’t happen. Other mouthpieces for sleep apnea are able to adjust the placement of the jaw to promote airflow while the patient sleeps.
Using a mouthpiece is a great, non-invasive tool for giving the patient a good night of sleep without requiring them to be tied down to a loud machine.
- Sleep Apnea Machines
Sometimes, the patient’s case of sleep apnea is so aggressive that a mouthpiece or lifestyle changes don’t reduce the symptoms on their own. In these cases, a doctor might recommend a continuous positive airway pressure machine. As the name suggest, a continuous positive airway pressure machine simply forces air into the airways through a mask that is worn while the patient sleeps. This air pressure that flows through the mask while the patient sleeps ensures the airway remains open throughout the night.
You might feel resistant to the idea of getting treatment for your sleep apnea because the though of using a continuous positive airway pressure machine is overwhelming. However, many doctors use this treatment to alleviate symptoms and improve the quality of sleep while they make lifestyle changes that improve their sleep apnea symptoms long term, such as losing weight.
Living with sleep apnea can be a real bummer. You might be sleepy throughout the day, and feel irritable and maybe depressed because of your poor health. In some cases, your sleep apnea can lead to other health concerns such as high blood pressure and heart disease. Taking the first step to get treatment for you sleep apnea is critical for being healthy and enjoying your life. In some cases, sleep apnea treatments can even save your life.