If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve been battling sleep apnea, or you know someone who is. At Minnesota Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, we understand how challenging this condition can be. The good news is, there are multiple ways to treat sleep apnea, many of which are far less invasive than you might think. So, let’s discuss some of the potential treatment options.
Believe it or not, some simple lifestyle changes can significantly impact sleep apnea symptoms. These include:
- Weight Loss: If you’re overweight or obese, shedding those extra pounds can relieve constriction of your airway. Consult with a nutritionist or dietitian who can guide you through a healthy weight loss plan.
- Exercise: Regular physical activity can help ease the symptoms of sleep apnea. Exercise benefits your heart and lungs and often leads to weight loss.
- Alcohol and Smoking: Both can worsen sleep apnea and snoring. Try reducing your alcohol intake and, if possible, quit smoking.
- Sleep Position: Changing your sleep position can help open up your airway. Many people find relief from sleeping on their sides or stomachs rather than on their backs.
One of the options we often recommend at our clinic are oral appliances. These are devices that you wear in your mouth while you sleep.
- Mandibular Advancement Devices (MADs): These look like mouth guards used in sports. MADs help by pushing your lower jaw forward, which opens up the airway.
- Tongue Retaining Devices: These are similar to MADs but include a small compartment that holds the tongue forward, preventing it from collapsing and obstructing the airway.
If you opt for an oral appliance, it’s important to remember that these devices must be custom-fitted to your mouth, a service we provide at Minnesota Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
CPAP is perhaps the most common treatment for sleep apnea. This involves wearing a mask over your nose and/or mouth while you sleep. The mask is connected to a machine that delivers a constant stream of air, keeping your breathing passages open.
While CPAP is highly effective, it can take some getting used to. Fortunately, modern machines are quieter and masks are more comfortable than ever before.
When other treatment options are not successful or suitable, surgery may be an option. There are several types:
- Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP): This surgery removes soft tissue from the back of the throat, increasing the width of the airway.
- Maxillomandibular Advancement (MMA): This surgery moves the upper and lower part of the jaw forward to increase the size of the airway.
- Hypoglossal Nerve Stimulation: This relatively new surgical procedure involves the implantation of a device that stimulates the nerve controlling the tongue, keeping it from blocking the airway.
At Minnesota Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, we are skilled in these procedures and can discuss whether they might be suitable for your particular situation.
Sleep apnea is a serious condition, but it doesn’t have to control your life. With various treatment options available, you can find a solution that suits your lifestyle and needs. Remember, you’re not alone in this journey. We are here to guide and support you every step of the way. Sleep well, friends.