Sleep apnea is a serious condition in which you stop breathing while you are sleeping. There are many ways to treat this condition, some of which your medical provider may not have told you about. Here is what you need to know about how this condition can be treated.
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One of the biggest modifiable risk factors that can decrease your chances of getting apnea while you are sleeping is to lose weight. The excess weight can put extra stress on some of the important structures of your respiratory system and can cause breathing cessation.
You can also positively affect your health by changing your positions while you are sleeping. Certain sleeping positions can be more beneficial to your breathing and ease the work of your lungs.
Another habit that you should be encouraged to follow is to stop smoking. Smoking can cause an increase in swelling of the structures in your upper airway. This will make your snoring and apnea significantly worse. Refraining from using sleeping pills and alcohol can also help to reduce breathing stress.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure
Also known as CPAP, continuous positive airway pressure can help make breathing significantly easier. It is not a cure, but it is a mask that you wear over your nose or mouth while you are sleeping. This airflow will keep your airways open and will help you breathe the way you should in the process.
CPAP is the most common treatment for apnea, and there is another variation of this called BPAP. BPAP is bi-level positive airway pressure, which is similar to CPAP with the differences involving airflow changes when breathing in and out.
If you cannot get CPAP, upper airway stimulation is an option at your disposal. A device called Inspire may be given to you, and this will stimulate your upper airways. Your doctor will place a small pulse generator underneath the skin permeating your upper chest. A wire will then be directed to your lung and detect your natural breathing pattern. Then, another wire up your neck will send mild signals to nerves that control your airway muscles. This will keep these muscles open. You will then be able to control this device with a remote control right before you sleep and as soon as you wake up.
There are some surgical procedures that might need to be considered if this condition is serious. If you have any medical condition that causes your throat to be too narrow, corrective surgery may be used to correct it. Some of these conditions that may warrant surgical intervention include a small lower jaw with an overbite, enlarged tonsils or a deviated nasal septum, a condition that entails the wall between the nostrils are off-center.
A surgical procedure known as a ubulopalatopharyngoplasty is a procedure in which soft tissues are taken out from your palate and the back of your throat. This is going to widen the opening of your throat and lessening the stress of breathing. There is another procedure known as mandibular maxillomandibular advancement surgery. This will help correct some of the facial problems that can play a role in apnea.
There are other treatments available to help with apnea issues. One of these treatments include getting a somnoplasty. This is a procedure that is done right in your doctor’s office, and tissues of your soft palate will be stiffen and shrunk to ease your breathing.
In addition to all of these treatments listed, there is certain medicine that may be prescribed for you. While doctors do not normally recommend medications as a primary form of treatment for apnea, certain drugs will help combat some of the symptoms that come along with apnea. One of the most common medications given for sleeping issues include solriamfetol (Sunosi). This will help combat sleepiness that comes along with apnea. You may also use over-the-counter sleeping aids, but this should only be used under the medical recommendation of your physician.