Sleep apnea is a serious problem that impacts millions of people. A person who suffers from sleep apnea often feels tired throughout the day and the restricted breathing can even cause a variety of potentially fatal problems such as weakening of the heart over time. Though the use of CPAP machine is the most common treatment for sleep apnea, there are a variety of treatment options available.
Sleep apnea has a number of different causes, but obesity is a common factor in most people with sleep apnea. Excess weight can both restrict airways and make it more difficult for the body to draw in and expel air. One of the best ways to correct sleep apnea is to lose weight. Even moderate amounts of weight loss have been shown to improve symptoms. Quitting smoking, or at least cutting back, and taking steps to improve allergies can also help a person to reduce sleep problems.
There are a number of oral appliances available to treat sleep apnea. These appliances work by holding the mouth in a specific position to hold open a person’s airway. For example, an appliance may hold the jaw in a forward position to prevent the throat from collapsing. In general, oral appliances are fitted as part of a joint collaboration between the doctor treating the patient for sleep apnea and the patient’s dentist. To use an oral appliance, a patient must have teeth and jaws that are healthy enough to not be damaged from the pressure of the appliance.
Nasal devices work by preventing the nose from collapsing while inhaling as well as restricting airflow when a person exhales. This restriction helps to hold open the respiratory system during breathing which makes it easier for a person to inhale. Nasal devices are generally disposable, which eliminates the maintenance steps needed for most other devices used to treat sleep apnea. Nasal devices also do not use electricity, further making them a convenient choice for patients.
Palatal stiffening refers to a procedure that makes the tissue at the back of the mouth more rigid. By making the tissue more rigid, the tissue is less likely to collapse against the back of the throat and restrict air movement. Stiffening can be accomplished in a number of different ways including through the insertion of rigid material directly into the tissue. The material is permanently left in place. Palatal stiffening is usually used in conjunction with other sleep apnea treatments.
People who suffer from sleep apnea often have restricted airways due to excess tissue. There are a variety of ways to remove this excess tissue to make the airway larger and less likely to collapse. Specialized techniques are available to remove tissue through the use of radio waves or traditional surgical techniques can be used to remove excess tissue from the throat, mouth and other areas of restriction.