Sleep apnea is a sleep-related breathing disorder characterized by pauses in breathing or shallow breathing during sleep, which may result in reduced blood oxygen levels. The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), where the airway collapses and blocks airflow during sleep. OSA often affects men more often than women and can significantly disrupt sleep. Read on to learn more about sleep apnea and the common treatment options.

How Is it Diagnosed?

Diagnosis of sleep apnea involves completing a detailed medical history, physical exam, and sleep test. During the sleep test, a physician or technician records multiple parameters overnight, including respiratory activity and heart rate. Furthermore, additional tests can be done to assess for any underlying causes, such as sleep-disordered breathing effects from enlarged tonsils or adenoids in children or chronic rhinitis inflammation and other anatomical issues in adults.

Sleep Apnea Treatment

Treating sleep apnea can be an effective long-term solution to getting a good night's sleep. Below are some common treatment options:

Lifestyle Changes

Making lifestyle changes such as losing weight, reducing alcohol intake, and quitting smoking can reduce symptoms significantly. Changing the sleeping position, avoiding sleeping pills, and maintaining consistent bedtimes can also help individuals to maintain better sleep throughout the night. Furthermore, regular exercise and reduced stress levels may improve breathing patterns during sleep. However, a doctor may recommend other treatment approaches if lifestyle changes do not effectively relieve sleep apnea symptoms.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy is a drug-free treatment for sleep apnea characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep. CPAP therapy supplies a steady stream of mild, pressurized air to the patient's nose and mouth. This helps keep the throat open throughout the night and prevents sleep apnea episodes. CPAP devices typically include a mask that fits over the nose or mouth and attaches to a tube connected to a CPAP machine. The machine releases air pressure at levels prescribed by a doctor, allowing users to breathe normally while they sleep without frequent disturbances caused by sleep apnea episodes. The effectiveness of this treatment has made it the gold standard when it comes to managing symptoms of sleep apnea.

Oral Appliance

Oral appliance treatment for sleep apnea is an increasingly popular option. This method involves using a custom-fitted dental device that helps keep the airway open while sleeping by slightly positioning the lower jaw to maintain a clear, unobstructed airway. It is a safe and non-invasive alternative to continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) and is largely considered a more comfortable option for treating mild sleep apnea. Oral appliance therapy has been proven to reduce sleep apnea symptoms and is a very effective solution when alternatives are not possible or not suitable.

For more information about sleep apnea treatment, contact a doctor.