Sleep apnea is a life-threatening condition because people with the problem stop breathing while they sleep, and they may not notice there is a problem. Over time, the risk of sudden death from a cardiac event also increases, with some people suffering a fatal heart attack in their sleep. If you have sleep apnea, it is imperative to do everything possible to treat or cure the condition.
1. Lose Excess Weight
There is a strong correlation between being overweight and the development of sleep apnea. Although the condition is mostly associated with people who have significant amounts of excess body fat, being large and muscular can also pose a risk. It is believed neck circumference plays a role in obstructive sleep apnea, with bodybuilders and professional football players who have thick, muscular necks, also developing the condition. If excess body fat is a concern, there are several ways to attempt weight loss, depending on your situation. Some people may be in danger of sudden death due to their sleep apnea and might be good candidates for bariatric surgery. For muscular people, consider reducing your muscle mass for long-term health benefits. People who lose a significant amount of weight often find they cure their sleep apnea.
2. Implement Different Sleep Strategies
If you have sleep apnea, it is imperative to use your CPAP machine. Many people who are prescribed a CPAP machine find the device is uncomfortable and they may skip wearing it. Talk with your doctor about other options for your machine to make it more comfortable, such as masks that only fit over nose or mouth, and not both. Your sleep position will also influence whether or not you stop breathing at night. Generally, sleep apnea occurs when people sleep on their back. Try acclimating yourself to becoming a side sleeper. One way you can do this is to lie on your side and stack pillows next to your back and buttocks. This will make it harder to roll over onto your back as you sleep. Using a wedge pillow will keep your head elevated, which may also reduce problems with sleep apnea, even if you sleep on your back.
3. Try Medical Interventions
There are several medical interventions that might help sleep apnea. A non-invasive method is using dental appliances while you sleep. The appliance is customized for your mouth and jaw. When you are wearing the appliance, it keeps your jaw and tongue in the right position, so your airway remains open as you sleep. Much like a CPAP machine, you might feel uncomfortable with a dental appliance, but with consistent use, you should acclimate to the device and notice you have a more restful sleep. In severe cases, surgery might be an option. Some of the soft tissues in the throat are removed to prevent obstruction of your airway during sleep. This type of surgery is reserved for people who have tried everything else and/or there is imminent danger of death from sleep apnea.
Many cases of sleep apnea can be resolved by decreasing your body size. For those who have remaining issues with sleep apnea, a combination of treatments might be the best solution. For more information, contact local sleep apnea doctors.