Sleep apnea is a severe sleep/breathing disorder that causes your breath to stop and repeatedly start when sleeping. The condition often happens when there’s an obstruction in the airway (referred to as obstructive sleep apnea). It can also occur if or when the brain fails to send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing (this is central sleep apnea).
While mild sleep apnea may cause serious side effects, frequent and severe sleep apnea episodes can increase the risk of health complications such as high blood pressure, heart attacks, abnormal heartbeats, and strokes. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with our dentist in West Covina for treatment if you suspect you might have sleep apnea.
A CPAP machine is a standard treatment solution for moderate to severe sleep apnea. A CPAP machine gently delivers continuous air pressure through a mask on your nose or mouth. It prevents the airway from closing and limits the adverse effects of sleep apnea. While a CPAP machine does not treat sleep apnea, it helps avoid airway obstruction and enables you to sleep better.
Why Use an Alternative to a CPAP Machine?
One important factor about using a CPAP machine is that it does not treat sleep apnea; it only prevents it from happening. Once you stop using it, the symptoms will likely return. Other reasons most patients avoid CPAP machines include:
● The mask can be uncomfortable.
Sleeping with a mask on your mouth or nose can be uncomfortable and make it problematic to fall asleep or sleep well. An ill-fitting mask can also cause skin irritations, sores, claustrophobia, and a dry nose. Request that your doctor help you select a cover for better comfort with the mask.
● Forced air can be uncomfortable.
A CPAP machine often delivers forced air at a more significant pressure than what’s in your environment. This can be uncomfortable and cause sleep disruptions, worsening your condition.
● It cannot be quiet.
A CPAP machine and mask can create unwanted noises, making it difficult to fall asleep. The noise can also be a problem for sleep partners with whom you share a room.
Sleep Apnea Treatment Without CPAP
If you can’t use a CPAP machine, below are effective treatment options to eliminate sleep apnea and improve your sleep.
● Weight loss
Obesity can cause sleep apnea. For instance, thick necks and excess tissues in the throat can block the airway during sleep. Maintaining a healthy weight can help you eliminate sleep apnea and help you sleep better.
● Lifestyle changes
Specific changes in your daily routines can improve your sleep apnea.
Change your sleeping position. Sleeping on the back can worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea. Sleeping on the side can make breathing easier and sleep easier.
Avoid Alcohol before bed. Drinking a few glasses of wine or beer can cause your upper airway muscles to relax too much, worsening sleep apnea.
Avoid tobacco products. Smoking is terrible for your overall well-being. As far as sleep apnea is concerned, smoking can increase inflammation or swelling in the airway, worsening your symptoms.
Exercise regularly. Regular exercise improves blood circulation and helps you sleep better.
Relieve congestion. If sleep apnea is caused by nasal congestion, try using decongestants or antihistamines to open up your nasal passages and prevent sleep apnea.
Use oral devices. Oral appliances are effective for cases of mild to moderate sleep apnea. These devices help to prevent the airway from collapsing and causing an obstruction. Tongue-retaining devices and nightguards hold the tongue in position and keep your jaw forward, allowing you to breathe better throughout the night.
Surgery: You can consider surgery if your symptoms haven’t improved after using the CPAP machine and the treatments above. Surgery mainly entails reducing or eliminating extra tissues that cause airway obstruction during sleep.
Common surgeries include:
Tongue reduction surgery
Soft palate and uvula surgery
Hypoglossal nerve stimulation
Tonsils and adenoids removal
Schedule an Appointment Today
Are you interested in sleep apnea treatments? Contact Jeffrey L Cohen, DDS, to book your appointment today.