Sleep apnea is a serious condition that can have a devastating effect on your quality of life. If you’ve been recently diagnosed with sleep apnea you may not be aware of the treatment options available to you. Your doctor should be able to discuss which options they think will be best to treat your condition. However, it’s a good idea to educate yourself on all of the options available.
The Bethesda Center for Family and Cosmetic Dentistry in Bethesda, Maryland has helped patients with sleep apnea. Our staff is very familiar with this risky sleeping disorder. We are well educated on the most effective treatment options available and want to share this information with you.
There are a wide variety of sleep apnea treatments. For many people, making lifestyle changes can help you get control over the sleeping disorder and take your life back. Many people who suffer or are at risk for obstructive sleep apnea are overweight. If you are overweight, one lifestyle change you can make to control your sleep apnea is to lose weight. Reducing your body fat percentage has been proven to have a positive impact for those who suffer from breathing related sleeping disorders.
There are also other factors that can contribute to your sleep apnea. Smoking has been shown to cause an increase in swelling throughout the upper airway. This can worsen sleep apnea greatly. If you stop smoking then your sleep apnea should improve. Avoiding alcohol and sedatives can also help lessen or eliminate symptoms of the dangerous sleeping disorder.
Other small adjustments that can be made to your lifestyle include modifying the position in which you sleep. Sleep apnea has been shown to be more severe when you sleep on your back. Try to avoid sleeping on your back if possible. Some people may inadvertently roll onto their back while they’re sleeping. This can be fixed by sewing a tennis ball or other small ball into the back of your pajamas between your shoulders. This will make sleeping on your back uncomfortable and you will be much less likely to roll onto your back during the night.
There are a number of dental devices that can help keep your airway open throughout the night. These devices are special made to fit you perfectly. This ensures the device is both comfortable and effective. Dentists with special training in treating sleep apnea can design these devices.
Another common device that is used when lifestyle changes and dental devices aren’t enough is the CPAP machine. A CPAP machine gets its name from providing continuous positive airway pressure by way of a mask. This mask is fitted over your nose, mouth, or both while you sleep. The goal of the CPAP machine is to deliver a steady stream of air to keep your airway open allowing you to breathe regularly.
A spin on the CPAP machine is the BPAP. This machine is quite similar to a CPAP, however the airflow doesn’t maintain constant pressure. Instead, the flow changes as you inhale and exhale. Both of these options are very popular when it comes to treating sleep apnea at home due to their effectiveness.
In severe cases, your doctor may suggest you undergo surgery as part of your sleep apnea treatment. Surgery typically focuses on a specific problem area. Correcting a deviated nasal septum allows for better airflow, while others benefit from the removal of their tonsils and adenoids. For others, removing excess tissue from the back of the throat and palate helps widen the airway.
For those who suffer from sleep apnea due to a severe overbite or a small lower jaw, a mandibular maxillar advancement surgery may be the best option. Your doctor will be able to discuss all surgical options with you in detail. They’ll provide you with the pros and cons of each option and how much of an impact they feel it will make in your specific case.
Advances in medical technology have led to other devices that can treat sleep apnea. A device called Inspire is now on the market. This device is implanted under the skin in your upper chest. A wire leads to the lungs to detect breathing patterns. A second wire leads to the neck and mildly stimulates nerves that control your airway. Your doctor uses a remote to program Inspire externally. You turn it on with the remote prior to bed. Throughout the night it stimulates the muscles in your airway to keep them open. When you wake, you use the remote to turn the device off.
Depending on the severity of your case, your doctor will recommend a treatment plan designed to help you control your sleep apnea. Often times treatment plans include one or more of the options above. Most frequently, lifestyle changes combined with a dental device or a CPAP machine prove to be the most effective and least invasive. Speak with your doctor about which options sound right for you.