Treatment options for Sleep Apnea
Nasal strips decrease nasal airway resistance by a small degree, which is why some athletes wear them. But if you wear them and are still snoring, that’s a sign you may have sleep apnea. Once your diagnosis of sleep apnea is confirmed, there are a number of options for treatment.
For mild sleep apnea, a dental jaw advancement appliance can help. It’s custom-made to the patient’s
mouth and pulls the lower jaw forward to open the airway. This reduces the snoring and the apnea.
Changing body position can help to some degree. Some people have worse apnea and snoring when they are lying on their backs rather than on their side. So you may be able to avoid the snoring problem if you don’t sleep on your back. The classic approach is to sew a tennis ball into the back of a sleep shirt, which will wake you up every time you roll over.
In some cases surgery can be effective— for example, snoring can go away when children have their tonsils or adenoids taken out (yes, kids snore) or if adults have redundant tissue removed. Everything gets saggy as we
get older, including the tissue in your throat. Fat that collects in the throat and polyps in your nose also block the airway,
making it more difficult to breathe. In general, though, surgery isn’t effective in treating sleep apnea and is discouraged.
The best choice for most people is what is known as the CPAP, or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, machine. It’s the best form of therapy. It blows air at a set pressure into your airway to splint it open. This is helpful because when you sleep, a different area of your brain takes control of the smooth muscle tissue in your airway. Airways get much floppier during sleep than they are during the day. That’s why we are more prone to apnea. What you’re really doing is sucking your own airway closed. A CPAP machine prevents this from happening.
While the comfort level of the device has improved a lot—for example, instead of a mask, you can wear nasal pillows, which fit on the outside of your nasal passages, or use an apparatus that covers only your nose—it still takes some getting used to. However, if you can sleep well, it’s worth the lifestyle adjustment.
Source: Costco News by Chrystle Fiedler