Sleep apnea needs to be addressed as it may lead to other serious health conditions when left unmanaged. Fortunately, sleep apnea patients have a vast choice for managing their condition and we are going to tackle some of them. We will start with the basic and most common of all; the CPAP or continuous positive airflow pressure.
CPAP – Continuous Positive Airflow Pressure
For moderate to severe sleep apnea, sleep experts recommend the use of a CPAP device; a mask-like machine that covers the mouth and nose. The patient should wear the mask during sleep as it provides a constant stream of air keeping your breathing passages open while you sleep. Although it is effective, many sleep apnea patients don’t like to use it because of the annoying sound and discomfort. As time passes by, CPAP makers did some update to significantly improve the design and function of the machine. Today, you can find a lighter, quieter, and more comfortable CPAP machines.
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Tips when using CPAP:
- See to it that the device fits you perfectly.
- When starting to use the machine, use it for just a short period of time and gradually increase the air pressure as you go on.
- Always visit your sleep doctor to check the fit and evaluate your progress.
- There are ways to minimize discomfort such as using soft pads to reduce skin irritation.
- Use nasal pillows if you are experiencing nose discomfort.
- You might want to consider using chinstraps to help keep the mouth closed and reduce the possibility of throat irritation.
- Make sure that your mask, tubing, and headgear are clean.
Custom-made oral appliances
Many sleep patients prefer to use oral appliances over other sleep apnea treatment methods. Why? Oral or also known as dental appliances are more comfortable and convenient to use. They do not produce annoying sounds too.
Custom-made oral appliances approved for sleep apnea treatment are usually made from acrylic and they are worn inside the mouth just like a mouth guard. They can also be worn around the head and chin to reposition the lower jaw. Some of the commonly used oral appliances are mandibular advancement device and tongue retaining device. They open the airway and bring the lower jaw forward and keep the tongue from blocking the airway.
Should you wish to try using oral appliances for your sleep apnea, all you have to do is to visit a dentist that specializes in dental sleep medicine. The dentist will thoroughly assess your sleep apnea and will create a custom-fitted oral appliance to address your needs. Getting the right fit is a must to prevent potential side effects such as soreness and permanent change in position of the inside structure of the mouth.
Sleep apnea implants
A pacemaker system is inserted which stimulates the muscles to keep the airway open so that you can breathe effortlessly while you sleep. It is perfect for people with moderate to severe sleep apnea, especially in people with central sleep apnea. It is a relatively new treatment approach approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration. However, sleep apnea implants are expensive.
If you have tried all other sleep apnea treatment methods and nothing seemed to work, then the last resort is surgery. As you know, surgery carries risk of complications and infections.