Sleep apnea is a disorder in which your breathing stops and starts repeatedly through the night. This common disorder is often characterized by excessive daytime fatigue, loud snoring, morning headaches, irritability, and difficulty concentrating while awake. Failing to take control of your sleep apnea may result in serious complications such as:
- High blood pressure
- Heart issues
- Metabolic syndrome
- Type 2 diabetes
- Liver problems
- Complications with surgery and certain medications.
Since the complications of sleep apnea can be serious, treating the disorder is critical. Lifestyle changes, CPAP therapy, and even surgical procedures are all treatment options you may need to consider.
Lose Weight if Needed
While not everyone who has sleep apnea is overweight, many individuals who have the disorder, are. Extra weight can increase the problem, while losing weight may reduce your symptoms. Multiple studies have found that weight loss can significantly improve problems with sleep apnea, particularly in those with milder cases. Adopting a new healthy eating habit and regular exercise can help you lose extra weight, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Machines
The most commonly recommended treatment for individuals with sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. This treatment involves wearing a mask over your nose or mouth while sleeping. The mask is attached to a machine via a hose and delivers a continuous flow of air into your airways. The pressure keeps airways open so you can breathe regularly.
Although CPAP machines offer the most reliable way to treat sleep apnea, some people find it uncomfortable, particularly in the beginning. It often takes some getting used to. Ensuring that you’re using the correct pressure settings on your CPAP machine is critical. A comfortable, high-quality mask can make a huge difference as well.
Dental Devices for Sleep Apnea
For people who have a difficult time using a CPAP machine or those who find they just aren’t adjusting, dental devices are another treatment option. Dental devices are designed to keep the throat open. Some work by moving the jaw forward to open the throat, which may relieve mild sleep apnea and snoring. Your dentist can offer different types of devices, and it’s a good idea to consult with your dentist about one that will best fit your needs. Some patients find they need to try a couple of different options before they find one that works.
Keep in mind, oral appliances aren’t as effective as CPAP therapy, but they may be easier to use. Talk to your doctor about whether this option is a good treatment for you.
Surgical Options as a Last Resort
When other treatments have failed, surgical options may be considered to treat sleep apnea. Before considering surgery, it’s generally recommended you try other options for at least three months. In rare cases, such as for individuals with jaw structure problems, it may be a good option to consider initially.
Multiple surgical options are available depending on the cause of your sleep apnea. The removal of excess tissue at the top of the throat and in the rear of the mouth is a common procedure. Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty is often successful at stopping snoring, although it’s not always an effective treatment for sleep apnea.
Another surgical procedure for sleep apnea is jaw repositioning. It involves moving the jaw forward to enlarge the space behind the soft palate and tongue. This makes an obstruction less likely to occur. This surgical procedure is a maxillomandibular advancement. Since it comes with significant recovery time, it’s not recommended as the first treatment for sleep apnea in most cases.
Taking control of your sleep apnea is important. Every individual is different, so it’s important to talk to your doctor about the best sleep apnea treatment plan for your situation. Call Sunrise Oral and Facial Surgery to set up your appointment today!