Obstructive sleep apnea causes periods of breathing cessation during sleep as a result of poor oxygenation. This can wake you up because it can cause gasping and choking. You may be unaware that you are not breathing normally; however, if someone in your household tells you that you snore loudly, you should talk to your doctor, who may recommend a sleep study.
Sleep apnea can cause daytime sleepiness, anxiety, depression, and raise your risk for heart disease. While you are awaiting your sleep study appointment, consider these lifestyle remedies that may help reduce obstructive sleep apnea symptoms.
Change Your Sleeping Position
Sleeping flat on your back can cause your tongue to slip into the back of your throat, obstructing your airway and causing apnea episodes. Conversely, sleeping on your side helps facilitate a normal pattern of breathing because it keeps your airway open.
If you are unable to sleep unless you are lying on your back, raise the head of your bed up with bed risers. You can also put blocks under the feet of the head of your bed. Sleeping propped up on a few pillows can also help prevent apnea episodes. Sleeping with the head of your bed elevated also helps keep stomach acid from rising up into your esophagus, irritating your vocal cords and airway.
Sleep apnea treatment often involves the use of a CPAP machine, which refers to a continuous positive airway pressure machine. This device forces air in your throat to keep your airway open. While effective, some people are unable to tolerate sleeping with the CPAP mask on. For them, dental appliances should be considered. They can either be made by your dentist or purchased over-the-counter.
Oral or dental appliances reposition your tongue and jaw so that your airway stays open during sleep. If you gain or lose weight, your oral appliance may not fit well, and because of this, you may need to have another one made or purchase a new appliance from the pharmacy.
Dental appliances are recommended for those who have allergies or suffer from chronic sinusitis. CPAP treatment can aggravate these conditions. However, your ENT specialist will determine which treatment option is right for you based on your sleep study examination, your general state of health, and the severity of your sleep apnea.
If you believe you may have obstructive sleep apnea, make an appointment with your physician. When sleep apnea is treated early on, you will have more energy and reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and maybe even diabetes.
For more information on sleep apnea treatments, contact an ENT specialist near you.