Do you often find yourself unable to breathe when sleeping? If yes, then you could be having obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This condition occurs when your upper airways get partially or fully blocked, preventing air from going in or out. People with this condition experience periodic pauses in breathing that negatively impact their sleeping patterns. So, they tend to suffer from prolonged fatigue and daytime sleepiness.
In fact, studies have shown that people with OSA are at a high risk of getting involved in road accidents because they are more likely to fall asleep while driving. If left untreated, obstructive sleep apnea can contribute to numerous long-term health problems. OSA is a contributor to depression, memory loss, weakened immunity, high blood pressure, mental confusion, diabetes, and acid reflux. So, you should see a doctor immediately if you suspect you have OSA. Luckily, there are several treatment options available.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is one of the most consistently successful and commonly used treatments for obstructive sleep apnea. It involves the use of a CPAP machine that has a fan for blowing air into your nostrils. This air is under pressure, and it serves as an inflated splint that opens up the pharyngeal airways. This treatment method isn’t curative; therefore, patients have to use the CPAP machine whenever they sleep. However, it is known to improve the quality of sleep and reduce daytime sleepiness.
There are several oral appliances that you can use to move your tongue and mandible forward. These appliances can be useful for people who have mild apnea but snore. While the efficacy of these appliances in treating OSA has not been very consistent, some studies have shown partial improvement in some patients. According to the American Sleep Disorders Association, before any patient uses these appliances, a mandatory initial sleep analysis must be done to assess their condition’s severity.
Different types of surgeries can help cure obstructive sleep apnea. For instance, you can go for palatal surgery, which removes the obstructive part of the soft palate and uvula. Palatal surgery tends to lessen snoring and other forms of sleep-disordered breathing. Another standard procedure is jaw surgery, which involves the advancement of a patient’s maxillomandibular. This surgery is known to be one of the most effective treatments for OSA. However, this is a more invasive procedure, and therefore patients who have it should brace themselves for a protracted recovery period.