Did you know more than 18 million American adults suffer from sleep apnea? It’s a common sleep disorder where the muscles in the back of your throat relax, causing your tongue to fall back into your airway. This leads to the blockage that temporarily stops you from breathing while you’re sleeping, provoking loud, excessive snoring.
The first line of defense against sleep apnea is usually a CPAP machine. This is a mask that gently blows air into the airway to keep it open while you sleep. However, sleep dentists like Dr. Sal Aragona understand that the CPAP can be loud, restrictive, and make sleeping more difficult.
How you treat your sleep apnea can have a considerable impact on your health and quality of life. If your CPAP isn’t cutting it, you might want to consider these five alternative treatments for sleep apnea.
1. Use Oral Appliances
With over 100 oral appliances approved by the FDA, this treatment has become popular in treating sleep apnea and snoring. Sleep specialists like Dr. Steve Greenman offer oral appliances as a less-invasive alternative to CPAP.
The device, which is similar to a mouthguard, is worn in the mouth while you sleep. It repositions your jaw or tongue forward to prevent the airway from collapsing and causing blockage. Oral appliance therapy is an effective method for treating sleep apnea.
Many patients prefer oral appliances over CPAP because of their numerous benefits, including:
- Easy to wear
- Easy to care for
2. Join a Weight Loss Program
Lack of exercise and poor eating habits can have damaging effects on your health, especially if you suffer from sleep apnea. In fact, about 70% of people with sleep apnea are overweight or obese. Excess weight around the throat causes tissue to build up and obstruct the airway.
Studies have shown that weight loss can significantly help improve or even eliminate sleep apnea symptoms. It can also put an end to long-term CPAP treatment and reduce exaggerated snoring. Just by eating healthier and getting active, you’re making considerable strides towards a healthier life.
3. Try Positional Therapy
According to a 2006 study, more than half of sleep apnea conditions are dependent on your sleeping position. When sleeping on their sides, patients were shown to experience less airway obstruction compared to those who slept on their backs.
Learning to sleep on your side, or positional therapy, eliminates or reduces airway blockage. To kick off this method, a common technique is to put a tennis ball in a sock and pin it to the back of your t-shirt. This trick discourages you from sleeping on your back.
Positional therapy is most effective in cases of snoring or mild sleep apnea. It can help reduce symptoms and improve your night’s rest.
4. Make Lifestyle Changes
Implementing some lifestyle changes can help reduce snoring and improve sleep apnea symptoms. Some beneficial activities include abstaining from alcohol, quitting smoking, and getting regular exercise.
Yoga is a great way to improve respiratory strength and encourage oxygen flow. Sleep apnea causes decreased oxygen saturation in your blood. Through assorted breathing exercises, yoga has the ability to stimulate oxygen levels. This can relieve sleep apnea symptoms and reduce the number of disturbances throughout the night.
5. Discuss Your Surgery Options
Surgery can reduce or eliminate the extra tissue in your throat that collapses and blocks your airway. There are several operations used to treat snoring and sleep apnea, which range from minimally invasive to more complex.
Experienced dentists like Dr. Mark Rangel provide non-invasive procedures with advanced laser technology. Doctors usually try less invasive treatments such as CPAP and oral appliances before recommending surgery. It’s important to discuss your options with your doctor before proceeding with an operation.
Find the Treatment That Works for You
If you suffer from sleep apnea, don’t worry — you’re not restricted to your CPAP. Thanks to groundbreaking research and advances in dentistry, there are a number of ways to treat your sleep apnea. You’ll be sleeping soundly and comfortably in no time.