If you’ve recently been diagnosed with sleep apnea, or you suspect having sleep apnea, you might wonder what treatment options are available to you. Fortunately, sleep apnea treatment has come a long way in the past 20 years. In the past, CPAP was the only available treatment. Today, there is a wide range of treatment options available to help you get a good night of sleep and reduce the health risks associated with untreated sleep apnea. Explore the different treatments for sleep apnea.
One of the first recommendations your doctor will provide you as part of your sleep apnea treatment plan is making lifestyle changes. Lifestyle changes shouldn’t be your only source of treatment. Instead, you should include them in your treatment plan. There are a number of changes you can make to your life that can help improve your condition. These changes include the following.
Losing weight is one of the top lifestyle changes recommended for people with sleep apnea. When someone is overweight, it’s common for fat to accumulate around the neck which can narrow the airway and cause more pressure for the soft tissue to collapse into the airway. By losing weight, you will lessen the amount of fat around the neck and therefore help open the airway up. Excess weight is one of the top causes of sleep apnea. In some cases, losing weight and maintaining the weight loss can permanently treat sleep apnea.
Nicotine is a stimulant and by smoking before bed, you’re already interrupting your sleep cycle. In addition, smoking can irritate the throat and cause inflammation that can cause your airway to become obstructed. Quitting smoking will help reduce inflammation and help you get a better night of sleep which will help improve the severity of your sleep apnea.
Stop Using Alcohol and/or Sedatives
Alcohol and sedatives help relax the muscles in the body. When you fall asleep, the muscles in the airway already relax. When you add alcohol or sedatives to the mix, they relax even more than they should naturally. As the muscles relax, they can collapse and block the airway which causes sleep apnea. By avoiding alcohol and/or sedatives, you can reduce the amount that your muscles relax.
Sleep on Your Side
When you fall asleep on your back, it’s common for the soft tissue in your throat as well as your tongue to collapse into the airway due to gravity. By simply switching to a side position, they’re less likely to collapse and obstruct the airway.
Completing the recommended 150 minutes of moderate activity per week can help with weight loss and improve your sleep quality. Start including exercise in your daily routine by taking a short walk and increasing the length of time every week.
Aside from making lifestyle changes, one of the treatments for sleep apnea that you will come across is CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure). CPAP is considered the gold standard for sleep apnea treatment, but many users find it too uncomfortable to use. The machine uses a hose and mask to deliver a constant and steady air pressure. By delivering constant air pressure, it prevents the airway from collapsing. Although the machine is highly effective and a number of people are happy with the results, it’s not the best treatment for everyone.
The machine is inconvenient to travel with and the mask can feel uncomfortable to get used to. If you’ve had bad luck with CPAP in the past, know that there are other treatments available that you might enjoy more.
One of the newest sleep apnea treatments on the market is neurostimulation therapy (Inspire therapy). FDA-approved Inspire therapy works by placing a device inside the body. The procedure requires three small incisions in a one-day outpatient setting. Using a remote to turn it on, the device monitors breathing and whenever the patient takes a breath, the device produces a gentle pulse that forces the tongue to move out of the way so that the airway doesn’t become obstructed. Not everyone is the best candidate for Inspire therapy.
In some sleep apnea cases, surgery is required to treat the condition. You might require surgery to remove excess tissue in the airway, remove tonsils and adenoids, reposition the jaw, fix deviated septums, or reduce the tongue’s size. Surgery isn’t the most common treatment approach but is necessary in some cases.
At TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado, we recommend oral appliances to our patients with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. Oral appliances rest in the mouth like a mouthguard and hold the airway open by repositioning the lower jaw forward. They’re comfortable, convenient, and highly effective. Best of all, surgery is not a requirement! We offer a selection of oral appliances to choose from.
If you’re searching for an effective sleep apnea treatment in Denver, look no further than oral appliances from TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado. Please call Dr. Berry at (303) 691-0267 to book an appointment to get started.