Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is when a person stops breathing for 10 seconds or longer during sleep and sleep hypopnea is when a person has shallow breathing. Whether the disorder is mild, moderate or severe depends on the number of times a person experiences apnea or hypopnea per hour. If a disorder is to be defined as sleep apnea, the number of episodes per hour can be five or greater.

The most common sleep-disordered breathing condition is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is caused by a blockage or narrowing of the airways in a person’s nose, mouth or throat. The obstruction occurs when the muscles that control the soft palate and tongue relax. However, bone deformities or enlarged tissues in the nose, mouth or throat are other causes of OSA. If you have enlarged tonsils, for example, the tonsils can press down on your airway when you lie down to go to sleep, which can lead to a partial or complete blockage. Additional factors that can increase the likelihood of OSA are certain medications, drinking alcohol before going to bed, obesity and sleeping on your back.

Traditional Treatments for Sleep Apnea

  • Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP): A machine gently delivers positive pressure through a hose to a nasal pillow, a nose mask or a full-face mask. The pressure reduces airway resistance, keeping it open. CPAP is the most common treatment for OSA. Apparatus is available in various sizes that are gender specific, noiseless and comfortable
  • Oral appliance therapy: A device worn your teeth to position the lower jaw forward while you sleep to reduce airway resistance.
  • Uvulopalatopharyngo-plasty: A surgical procedure to widen the space in the back of your throat to reduce the likelihood of the airway collapsing.
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)
Oral appliance therapy

 

Alternative Treatments for Sleep Apnea

Alternative therapies promote natural ways to provide relief from sleep apnea. They include:

  • Weight loss: Research shows that a 10 percent reduction in body weight can be an effective way to cure sleep apnea in some cases of people who are obese.
  • Psychiatry: Behavioral therapies frequently alleviate apnea episodes and other sleep disorders which can cause anxiety and depression.
  • Sleeping position: Lying on your side is an extremely effective way to prevent blockages in the nasal passage. Thick sleeping pillows can help maintain that position.
  • Fitness: Exercising and eating healthy can help prevent muscular obstructions that occur because of excessive weight. In addition, avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine, which are known as “sleep stealers.”