A Look at Snoring and Sleep Apnea and Their Treatments
Many people seek treatment for snoring and/or sleep apnea. Actually, snoring and severe sleep apnea are on opposite ends of the spectrum of conditions known as sleep disordered breathing.
Snoring and Its Treatments
Vibrations of the uvula and the soft palate, along with the walls of the throat will cause snoring. These vibrations happen if there is a difference in pressure in parts of the upper respiratory tract because of a partial airway obstruction.
Occasional snoring can often be treated naturally. Tips to help snoring include:
- Lose weight
- Avoid alcohol and heavy meals at least four hours before bedtime
- Avoid pills, antihistamines, and tranquilizers
- Establish regular sleeping hours
- Try sleeping on your side, not your back
Medical treatments for snoring can include doctor-prescribed nasal sprays. Dental appliances or nasal strips can also help alleviate snoring.
Sleep apnea is a condition where a person’s breathing is interrupted. There are two types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by an airway blockage
- Central sleep apnea is not caused by a blockage, but rather the brain’s failure to send signals to the muscles to breath.
Sleep apnea essentially causes a person to stop breathing numerous times during their sleep. Because a person stops breathing, the body and brain may not receive sufficient oxygen levels. Additionally, sleep apnea, if left untreated can cause:
- Heart failure
- High blood pressure
Treatment for Sleep Apnea
There are different treatments that can help sleep apnea. If the sleep apnea is mild, it can be treated using lifestyle changes such as those outlined above to prevent snoring. For more serious cases, sleep apnea can be treated through:
- CPAP or continuous positive airway pressure. This treatment entails wearing a mask over the nose and mouth during sleep that will deliver an airflow that will keep the airway open.
- Dental appliances can also be used to help keep the airways open.
Surgical treatments to treat underlying conditions:
- Correction of a deviated septum in the nose.
- Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UVPP) which is a procedure that increases the width of the airway by removing soft tissue at the back of the throat and palate.
- Surgery to treat a small lower jaw
- Tonsillectomy to remove enlarged tonsils
If you are suffering from snoring or sleep apnea, you should consult a doctor knowledgeable in sleep disorders and conditions to discuss your options to alleviated the symptoms, and let you get back to getting a good night’s sleep.