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Sleep Apnea Treatment: Here Are a Few Ways to Keep Your Airways Open

Sleep Apnea Treatment: Here Are a Few Ways to Keep Your Airways Open

Posted On: October 21, 2020

Have you tried medication to treat your sleep apnea but it was not successful? Learn about more natural ways that may help.

According to a study done by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, over 25 million Americans suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. While sleep apnea may seem like just an irritating sleep disorder, it can be so much more dangerous than that.

Sleep apnea can increase your chances of developing heart disease, breathing conditions, heart attacks, and even worse, death. Those who have sleep apnea are two and a half times more likely to die of heart failure than those who do not have it. In other words, having sleep apnea treatment could save your life.

The only question is, what is the best form of sleep apnea treatment? The last thing you want to experience is wasting a bunch of money and hope for something that does not work.

Thankfully, we’ve created this article to help you understand the best sleep apnea treatment available so that you can sleep sound and safely again. Keep on reading to learn more.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that ranges from mild to severe symptoms. The more severe your sleep apnea is, the more important it will be to seek treatment as soon as possible.

There are three main types of sleep apnea, obstructive (most common) central sleep apnea, and mixed. Sleep apnea treatment all depends on what type of sleep apnea you have.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common form of sleep apnea, and unfortunately, many people who suffer from this form of sleep apnea go undiagnosed. OSA happens when there is a partial or complete blockage of the airway while sleeping.

While you sleep, the muscles of the throat relax, causing the tongue and the oral tissues to fall into the back of the mouth, blocking the airways and causing an obstruction. Over time, this obstruction reduces the flow to the brain, which signals to the body to wake up to breathe and stay alive.

This waking up is illustrated by wheezing, gasping, snorting, and choking until they are woken up to the point where the obstruction is cleared.

Some symptoms of OSA are:

  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Headaches in the morning (due to the lack of oxygen)
  • Snoring
  • Restless sleeping

If you or someone you know could have OSA, make an appointment to see a sleep specialist as soon as possible.

Central Sleep Apnea

Central sleep apnea happens when the brain fails to communicate with the lungs to continue to breathe while sleeping. Essentially, this is caused by either trauma to the brain or brain stem, heart failure, severe obesity, brain tumor, certain medications, brain infection, previous strokes, preexisting conditions, or sleeping in high altitudes.

The respiratory control center in the brain is responsible for regulating your oxygen levels and breathing while you sleep, however, if there is damage to the neuropathways, and a change in carbon dioxide levels, the brain may miss the signal.

Some of the symptoms of central sleep apnea include:

  • Irregular breathing during sleep
  • Waking up suddenly during the night
  • Restless sleep
  • Fatigue during the day
  • Headaches in the morning
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Shifts in mood and irritability

CSA is more common in older adults or people who have experienced some type of trauma to the brain or have a brain tumor. As mentioned above, this type of sleep apnea is not as common as obstructive sleep apnea.

Mixed (or Complex) Sleep Apnea

In 2006, the researchers in the Mayo clinic discovered a new type of sleep apnea, called complex sleep apnea. This type of sleep apnea is a mix of both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. The researchers noticed that the CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine helped most of the time, yet it still did not help them breathe properly.

The symptoms of complex sleep apnea are similar to the symptoms for both obstructive and central sleep apnea, yet because of the combination of causes, the treatment is still to be determined.

Sleep Apnea Treatment

If you feel that you may have sleep apnea, there are different treatments available for you. First, you need to make an appointment with a sleeping clinic to have the proper testing and monitoring done.

The doctors will evaluate you during sleep for any signs of sleeping disorders, snoring, restlessness, and breathing issues. Then they will determine the best form of sleep tests and treatments for you, including at-home and in-lab testing.

At-Home Testing

Thanks to the incredible advancements in sleep technology, you can now have your sleep-test in the comfort of your own home with an auto-CPAP machine. This machine will monitor your breathing patterns, heart rate, and oxygen saturation and adjust the airway pressure to help prevent breathing obstructions.

In-Lab Testing

With in-lab testing, you can be assured your sleeping will be fully monitored to detect any sleeping abnormalities. The technicians will apply special electrodes to your head that will detect your brain activity during sleep, and the signals are sent to the central control room (where the technician monitors your sleep). Your sleep will also be videotaped to ensure that nothing has been missed.

After the testing, you will experience CPAP therapy in the CPAP clinic with a board-certified sleep MD and a respiratory/sleep therapist. This helps to ensure you have the best obstructive and central sleep apnea treatment available. The newest CPAP machines are much lighter, quieter, and more comfortable than they used to be, so you will not have a problem using one at home.

All of these treatments are completely natural, as there are no medications that can help with sleep apnea, they can only help with the associated symptoms such as fatigue.

Learn More About Sleep Apnea Treatments

The sleep apnea treatment that you need all depends on what type of sleep apnea you have, and what is causing your sleep apnea in the first place. If your sleep apnea is not obstructive, you may not benefit from a CPAP machine.

To learn more about what sleep apnea treatment is available for you, feel free to contact us and schedule an appointment at your convenience.

Request An Appointment

Dr Jochism

Dr. Sean Jochims, Neurologist

Dr. Sean Jochims graduated medical school with the prestigious Rick Wartgow Award for dedication to medicine. He also received Excellence in Teaching Awards as chief resident in neurology at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

  • Medical School: Medical College of Wisconsin
  • Internship/Internal Medicine: Northwestern University
  • Clinical Neurophysiology Fellowship: Rush Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center, Chicago
  • Participant at Atlanta School of Sleep Medicine
Board Certifications
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