In a Nutshell
- Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder whereby patients stop and resume breathing in their sleep, which in some cases may prove fatal
- Currently, Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) patients are being treated using CPAP machines, airway clearing surgeries, and mandibular advancement devices
- Sleep apnea can also be managed with lifestyle changes if you are overweight, consume excessive amount of alcohol, or sleep on your back
Sleep Apnea is a relatively common problem in the US. It is characterized by the temporary obstruction of the airway that results in complete or partial blockage of airflow and can greatly affect your sleep health. Some of the most prominent signs and symptoms of the condition include:
- Disturbed sleeping patterns
- Waking up multiple time during the night
- Making snorting, gasping or choking noises
- Dry mouth and snoring
- Feeling lethargic and exhausted during the day
- Inability to focus or concentrate on things
- Headaches and mood swings
It is possible that patients may not be aware that they’re suffering from sleep apnea. It is however important to see a doctor if you notice any of these symptoms because the condition can cause many different health complications if left untreated.
Sleep apnea is diagnosed through sleep clinic tests, and through identification of known symptoms. At a sleep clinic, the heart rate and breathing patterns of patients are monitored as they sleep. These tests help determine the severity of the condition, which is essential for treatment planning.
Some of the most effective treatments used for Sleep Apnea include CPAP Machines, Airway Surgeries and Mandibular Advancement Devices. However, in mild apnea cases, these treatment may not be required.
For mild apnea, certain lifestyle modifications may be sufficient to help patients sleep through the night.
SLEEP APNEA HOME TREATMENT REGIMINE
Treatment modalities vary with the severity of the condition. If it is mild, experts recommend a few lifestyle and dietary modifications such as:
- Consuming a healthy, balanced diet: Incorporate fresh produce and grains into your diet and limit alcohol intake
- Exercise: Physical activity for at least 30 minutes every day is important to keep the body healthy
- Lose weight: Evaluate your BMI and try to shed the extra pounds that can cause serious problems for your later in life
- Create a sleep routine: Follow a strict routine for bedtime and for waking up at set hours each day. You should ideally be getting at least 6-8 hours of sleep at night
- Quit Smoking: Smoking is injurious to health and can cause harmful diseases of the cardiovascular system.
For moderate to severe sleep apnea on the other hand, the treatments that are currently being followed include:
- CPAP Machine: CPAP Machine is a breathing device that ensures continued airflow through the respiratory system as you sleep, and it effectively prevents obstruction of the airway.
- Mandibular Repositioning Devices: These devices hold the jaws in place, thus preventing the blockage of the upper airway.
- Tongue Retainers: Tongue Retainers hold the tongue in place while you sleep, so it does not cover or block the airway.
- Surgery: Oral surgeries such as Tonsillectomy, Tracheostomy, and jaw advancement surgeries can also help patients of severe sleep apnea in managing or treating their symptoms.
STRENGTH OF EVIDENCE: B
Sleep Apnea should be treated based on its severity. In mild cases, you can fix your sleeping patterns by practicing lifestyle and dietary modifications. For moderate to severe cases, a clinical evaluation of the condition is necessary to determine which treatment best suits the needs of the patient based on his/her age, symptoms and compliance.
Lifestyle modifications, CPAP machines, mandibular advancement devices and oral surgeries can help patients of sleep apnea alleviate their symptoms successfully.
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