Sleep Apnea can be treated in a number of different ways. No matter what the treatment, the end goal is to restore breathing, so that the patient can reduce snoring and sleep better, waking more rested.
Some sleep apnea treatments are simple lifestyle changes. In many cases, weight loss can relieve pressure from the throat and lungs, allowing the airway to stay open. Similarly, sleeping on your side rather than your back can be helpful in the same way. Alcohol and medicines that make you drowsy can also cause your throat muscles to relax, which allows them to close while sleeping – if possible, avoid alcohol and taking those types of medications before bed.
While lifestyle changes can help some patients, others will need more involved medical attention. A trained doctor has three other options for treating sleep apnea – mouthpieces, CPAP machines, and surgery are all viable treatments for different patients.
Sleep apnea mouthpieces can adjust your lower jaw and tongue to ensure that your airway stays open while you’re asleep. The mouthpiece is typically custom fit by a dentist or orthodontist, and may need to be adjusted if you experience pain or discomfort after using it.
CPAP – continuous positive airflow pressure – machines can be used to treat moderate to severe sleep apnea by gently blowing air into your throat as you sleep. The constant pressure keeps the airway open, eliminating snoring and allowing the patient to sleep through the night. However, the CPAP machine requires wearing a mask while you sleep, which can be uncomfortable for some people, and has some side effects (dry mouth, stuffy nose, headaches), so be sure to discuss the option with your doctor.
Finally, for severe cases of sleep apnea, a doctor or dentist may recommend corrective surgery. Different surgical options are available – from removing excess tissue in the throat area to resetting the lower jaw position to adding plastic to stiffen the area around the airway – and a thorough examination is required for the doctor to know the proper procedure to address your specific case.
No matter how severe your sleep apnea may be, contact your local doctor or dentist for advice – they can advise you on the proper treatment for your situation.
Call Dr. Graham E. Farless DDS, your local Greensboro dentist, today for more information on sleep apnea, 336-282-2868. Visit his practice online at www.gsodentist.com.