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Sleep Apnea Treatment – New Things You Need to Know
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, you probably are wondering what the next steps for you and your family are. Unfortunately, no one but your doctor will be able to tell you what treatment method is right for your situation. While you are waiting for the visit that will determine treatment, here is an article that goes over some of the newest and most commonly used sleep apnea treatments and therapies.
Oral Appliances are different types of gear that are typically worn in the mouth. These units are similar to mouth guards you would wear for sporting events or retainers used in orthodontics when sleeping. These appliances ensure that your bottom jaw is held forward, and your tongue, soft pallet muscles, and upper airway are in a position where they cannot collapse to block airflow.
These devices are often recommended by a sleep specialist but made at a dental office. Oral appliances are commonly prescribed for patients who have minimal to moderate OSA (obstructive sleep apnea) or for patients who were prescribed CPAP treatment initially but could not tolerate that course of therapy.
Upper Respiratory Stimulation Therapy
Upper respiratory stimulation therapy is new and innovative. Though all sleep therapists are not utilizing it yet, it is showing marked improvement in some patient’s OSA. To qualify for this kind of treatment, you would likely need to have the following:
- A diagnosis for OSA
- Be unable to tolerate CPAP therapy
- Some insurances may require you to have tried an oral appliance
This treatment works by having a bedside unit that has two leads on it. One lead connects to a sensor that you place on your body to determine your breathing patterns while you sleep. The other lead is positioned so that it can provide your breathing muscles mild stimulation in the event they do not operate appropriately.
Despite typical misconceptions about sleep apnea, it is very common for the typical OSA patient to be overweight or even obese. If you find this is your situation, doctors around the globe have all agreed that losing some weight, even as little as 10% of your body mass, could drastically reduce the effects of your sleep apnea. There have not been many studies that discuss the links between weight loss and OSA relief; however, all doctors report marked improvement of quality of sleep and reduction in snoring when apnea patients do reduce their weight.
Decongestants and Positioning
Some people experience occasional or seasonal sleep apnea due to nasal swelling or congestion. One of the most straightforward treatments for this very mild version of OSA is to take a nasal decongestant. Similarly, some patients only experience OSA when sleeping in a particular position. For most people who have this issue, it occurs most often when sleeping on their backs. The obvious answer to this situation is to not sleep on your back. Unfortunately, for some people, that is harder said than done. There is some sleepwear designed with balls or lumps in the back to help prevent someone from turning over, as well as full-length body pillows and wedges to keep patients propped up and unable to turn on to their backs without knowing it during the night.
In some more extreme cases, or with more severe OSA, surgery can be required. Unfortunately, surgical solutions typically only work about 50 percent of the time. Current sleep studies do not indicate what part of the upper airway is causing the issues; therefore, surgeons usually try to correct the most frequently problematic areas.
Even if the surgery is deemed successful, most doctors encourage you to continue monitoring by a sleep therapist regularly due to the chance of a reoccurrence of sleep apnea.
Positive Airway Pressure Devices
CPAP or continuous positive air pressure devices are the gold standard when treating OSA. Most patients with mild, moderate, and severe cases get prescribed sleep therapy with the use of a CPAP unit. These machines have a certain amount of air pressure determined by a sleep study that is needed to keep the airway open. Though this course of treatment can be challenging to get used to, at this time, it is proven to be the most effective solution for the most significant group of people.
Maintaining Your PAP Unit
One of the most critical parts of using a CPAP is the maintenance associated with it. Next to ensuring that you wear your device every time you are asleep, the most important thing is to make sure it is clean and stays in working order. One of the most convenient and effective ways to make sure your CPAP unit is working at its peak efficiency is by cleaning it with a CPAP Cleaning device. There are a few different kinds of CPAP cleaners on the market. Check out the various units we carry here at Best CPAP Cleaner.