Sleep apnea is a common disorder that can leave you feeling tired and sleepy during the day. The condition leads to breathing coming to a stop during sleep, forcing your brain to wake up to restore breathing momentarily. People with the condition can have hundreds of these interruptions during sleep.Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by…
Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea
Individuals who suffer from sleep apnea may experience troublesome symptoms that prevent them from getting a good night’s rest. Patients with this type of sleep disorder stop breathing periodically throughout the night. This is either a result of the relaxation of the muscles in the throat (obstructive sleep apnea) or a lapse in signals from the brain that are needed to maintain breathing while unconscious (central sleep apnea).
While the severity and frequency of symptoms may vary, sleep apnea is a serious issue that should never be ignored. If left untreated, it can lead to serious complications, including severe cardiovascular problems, diabetes, chronic fatigue and headaches. Fortunately, a better understanding of this sleep disorder can help pave the way to a safe and effective treatment plan.
Risk factors and symptoms
There are several preexisting conditions and habits that can increase one’s risk of suffering from sleep apnea. The disorder is more common among males and those in middle age or older. Certain genetic predispositions, excess weight and use of alcohol or sedatives can also make an individual more likely to develop this condition. People may experience a variety of symptoms, including
- Loud or excessive snoring
- Dry mouth
- Daytime fatigue or tiredness
- Gasping for air in the night
Those who experience these issues with any regularity should be evaluated by a physician for diagnosis and treatment.
Most patients who suspect they suffer from sleep apnea will first undergo an evaluation from a physician. In general, a doctor recommend a sleep study to determine the cause and severity of the problem. A sleep study can be conducted either at home or in a facility, depending on the patient’s needs and situation. Once a diagnosis is made, a treatment plan can be created to fit the severity of the condition.
All individuals with sleep apnea should lose excess weight, limit alcohol consumption and avoid smoking altogether. Those with severe allergy problems may need medications to help promote better airflow through the nasal passages. For some people, simply changing sleeping positions can allow for better breathing patterns at night. In some milder cases, these simple changes can help relieve symptoms for a restful night’s sleep.
When lifestyle changes alone are not enough, a doctor may recommend the use of an oral appliance to help align the jaw and reduce obstruction while sleeping. For some individuals, a continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP machine is the most effective way to treat chronic sleep apnea. If these less invasive treatment options are not effective for the patient, surgery may be required.
Sleep apnea can be a difficult condition to live with and may ultimately lead to a decline in overall health. If left untreated, trouble breathing, snoring and tiredness can progress to heart disease and chronic fatigue. However, with a proper diagnosis, intentional lifestyle changes and the care and treatment of a trained medical professional, those with sleep apnea can reestablish healthy sleeping habits for a better life.
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