Sleep Apnea: What Is It and How Do I Treat It?
About 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea; many don’t even know it. Do you snore at night? Wake up feeling tired? Have high blood pressure? All of these and more could mean you have sleep apnea. Read on to find out what it is and how to treat it.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder characterized by snoring and stop-start breathing that can lead to fatigue and headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, liver problems, diabetes and other health complications.
It’s pretty common in males, but many females also suffer from sleep apnea. Most patients develop the condition after becoming an adult, but childhood snoring is an early warning sign that your child may be prone to sleep apnea.
The Three Types of Sleep Apnea
There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central and complex. Knowing which one you suffer from will go a long way toward determining the proper treatment for you. Let’s learn a little bit about each type.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by relaxing your throat muscles during sleep, causing your tongue and soft palate to collapse and block your airway. OBS is the most common type of sleep apnea.
Central Sleep Apnea
Central Sleep Apnea occurs when the brain fails to send a signal to breathe during sleep. CSA is not a result of blockage.
Complex Sleep Apnea
Complex sleep apnea is a combination of the first two types. It is very rare.
How Do I Know if I Have Sleep Apnea?
The easiest way to know if you have sleep apnea is to ask your partner if you snore or stop breathing at night. Odds are, they’ve already told you!
At Godly Station Dental, we partner with sleeptest.com so you can fully understand your sleep and how to improve it. The test is done in the comfort of your home. That way, you don’t have to worry about unfamiliar sleeping conditions. Their certified physicians will analyze your results and send them to us for treatment.
Sleep Apnea Treatment Options
If you do have sleep apnea, don’t fret. There are plenty of treatment options to help you get a good night’s rest and avoid any long-term problems. We’ll go into a little more depth below, but the most common sleep apnea treatments are a CPAP machine, a sleep appliance, diet and exercise and surgery.
These machines are the most commonly prescribed treatment for sleep apnea. CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. The device wears like a mask and delivers purified air to your lungs by pushing away any blockages.
They need to be plugged in and make a sound when you sleep, so they can be uncomfortable for some patients. They are also hard to transport and do not work while camping when electricity is unavailable.
Luckily for most sleep apnea patients, alternative treatments may be more effective than a CPAP machine.
Sleep appliances are similar to mouth guards. You wear them only at night. And, they hold your mouth open in a comfortable position allowing you to breathe and sleep easily. Our doctors will fit you for your sleep appliance and teach you how to use it. You should notice a big difference the first night you wear it, but it could take a few days to get used to.
Our doctors will want to see you back every so often to ensure your sleep appliance works how it’s supposed to and still fits.
This sleep apnea treatment is much more convenient than CPAP machines and can be used to treat most patients — not just some.
Diet and Exercise
Sometimes sleep apnea can be reversed by living a healthier lifestyle and losing weight. Changing your diet and exercising regularly could fix your sleep apnea and many other ailments.
But, while getting in shape is always a good idea, it’s not a guaranteed fix for sleep apnea. So, we don’t recommend putting all of your eggs in this basket.
When nothing else works, surgery is the last option. Surgeons can open your airways and ensure your brain tells your lungs to breathe while sleeping. Surgery is expensive, and the recovery takes a long time, so it’s always used as a last resort.
Sleep apnea not only causes snoring, but it can also lead to long-term health conditions. But you can treat it with the help of the experts at Godley Station Dental. Want to set up an appointment or learn more about our sleep apnea treatment? Contact us today to get started.