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The Different Types of Sleep Apnea Treatment

Sleep apnea is a serious condition that can not only be bad for your quality of sleep, but all so very damaging for your over-all health. Seeking sleep apnea treatment is very important, however, many people do not realize this, and end up spending years feeling tired after several hours of sleep. Listening to and watching the person next to you in bed violently struggle for air several times during the night can also be very bothersome.



Leaving your sleep apnea untreated can cause serious health issues, and there have even been reports of sleep apnea and death being related. There are many causes of the condition, and sometimes the treatment for sleep apnea involves fixing the underlying problem. Some causes include: being overweight/obese, localized changes in the upper airway such as enlarged tonsils or polyps (this is especially what causes sleep apnea in children). Constrictions in the nose or throat because of the placement of the tongue, the soft palate, or any other tissue are also common causes.

Illnesses of the brain (i.e. after strokes, damages to spine or diseases affecting muscles), low metabolism (myxoedema) or overuse of anabolic steroids or growth hormones or pre-existing heart conditions can also be contributing factors. Alcohol and sleeping aids can make obstructive sleep apnea much worse.

If trying to adjust your lifestyle to fix any of the above problems still doesn’t help you to rid yourself of your sleeping issues, then there are many especially designed treatments which may be able to help. Surgery is also an option, but is usually only done in extreme cases or as a last resort.

Most Common Sleep Apnea Treatments:


sleep apnea treatmentDepending on the severity of the condition, a sleep apnea CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) device is often recommended as a treatment for sleep apnea. The purpose of it is to blow out positive pressure that will keep the upper airways and the pharynx open during breathing. Snoring will stop completely, and there will be no more breaks in airflow to the lungs.

Most people feel the difference after using the CPAP device for only a few nights; they feel rested and have renewed energy, which not only benefits the patients, but also their family and friends. Some people cannot tolerate the CPAP device or have difficulties sleeping with the CPAP mask on. In these cases additional tests are required to look for further issues. This could for example be issues with the mucous membranes that can often be solved.

Studies have shown that people can greatly benefit from sleep apnea support groups in their area, to exchange thoughts, ideas and other stories, and to realize they're not alone in their struggle.

Mouthpieces and Other Sleep Apnea Devices

While CPAP is the most common device used to treat sleep apnea, it is far from the only one. There are especially designed pillows which claim to alleviate sleep apnea. Another popular option is sleep apnea mouthpieces or mouth guards, which can lessen the constriction of the airways in the throat and nose, and help alleviate the problem.

Natural Sleep Apnea Remedies and Medications

sleep apnea treatmentThere are many all natural and herbal remedies which also claim to improve sleep apnea. One of the common causes of sleep apnea and snoring is caused by swollen throat or nasal passages, which means that any product which can reduce the swelling can help alleviate the problem. Some people find success using teas, while other use products containing melatonin. Melatonin may not alleviate the sleep apnea problem, but it can allow a person to fall asleep and stay asleep easier so they can get a more restful night’s sleep. 

While uncommon, some doctors do prescribe sleep apnea medication to help combat sleep apnea. One of the most common medications used to treat apnea and other sleep problems is a corticosteroid, usually in the form of a nose spray. These sprays will help reduce any swelling in the throat and nose due to allergies or other issues.

Surgery to Help Treat Sleep Apnea

As a last resort, there are also several different surgical procedures that are used to treat sleep apnea with varying degrees of success, depending on the individual. One of the major issues with all sleep apnea surgeries lies in their low success rates, with as few as 50% of the cases being unsuccessful. 

 

Although success is also a fairly relative term, as it depends on exactly how well a person expects to get. Most people who decide to undergo surgery to help correct their sleep apnea will still snore, sometimes quite loudly, although this should be lessened at least to some extent and the person should be able to get a better night’s sleep.

 

In order to determine whether surgery is the right option or not, it will be necessary to see an ear, nose, and throat specialist who can advise you on all of the possible treatment options available, both surgical and non-surgical. If you're still not 100% sure whether you actually have sleep apnea, we advise you to undergo a special sleep test at a sleep apnea clinic.

If excess soft tissue at the back of the mouth is the cause of your sleep apnea, then the ear, nose, and throat specialist may recommend an uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP). A UPPP surgery removes some of this excess tissue including all or part of the uvula and the soft palate, as well as the tonsils and adenoids. 

sleep apnea treatmentThis is normally quite an invasive surgery that requires at least one night’s stay in the hospital and several weeks to fully recover. Another option is a similar procedure using laser surgery instead of traditional surgical instruments. Less tissue is usually removed and the surgery is much less invasive and can be done in the doctor’s office in a few hours time. 

The recovery period is also shortened, although not by much. There has been very little accurate research done to show how well this procedure works long term, although many people do report some improvement in the first few weeks.

If the sleep apnea is caused by problems with a deviated septum, then doctors will often recommend surgery to help correct the septum deviation which will allow for more airflow through the throat and nasal passages. Again, this may help alleviate the problem, but it is highly likely that a person will still snore and have at least a mild form of sleep apnea even after undergoing the procedure.


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