Sleep Apnea -Symptoms, Self-Help, and Treatment Alternatives

What is sleep apnea?

It’s a common but serious sleep disorder when breathing is briefly interrupted and jolts you out of your natural sleep rhythm. You don’t feel energetic, sharp, and productive throughout the day.

Types of sleep apnea

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea occurs when the soft tissue in the back of the throat relaxes during sleep and blocks the airway, causing you to snore loudly.
  • Central sleep apnea involves central nervous system occurring when the brain fails to signal the muscles to control breathing.
  • Complex sleep apnea is a combination of obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.

Signs and symptoms of sleep apnea

  • Major warning signs
  • Loud and chronic snoring
  • Choking, snorting, or gasping
  • Pauses in breathing
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Other warning signs
  • Waking up with a dry mouth
  • Insomnia or nighttime
  • Morning headache
  • Forgetfulness
  • Moodiness/ irritability
  • Depression

Is it sleep apnea or just snoring?

Not everyone who has sleep apnea snores and vice versa. Unlike sleep apnea, normal snoring doesn’t affect the quality of your sleep and daytime routine.

Sleep apnea causes

  • Overweight male with family history of sleep apnea
  • A smoker, over the age of 50, affected by high blood pressure
  • People with neck circumference greater than 15.75 inches

Central sleep apnea causes

  • Common in males over the age of 65.
  • Associated with illness such as heart disease, stroke, neurological disease or spinal injury.

Self-help treatments

  • Lifestyle changes to reduce sleep apnea symptoms
  • Losing weight
  • Avoid having alcohol, sleeping pills, and sedatives
  • Quit smoking
  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain regular sleep hours
  • Bedtime tips for preventing sleep apnea
  • Sleep on your side
  • Prop your head up while sleeping
  • Open the nasal passage by a nasal dilator
  • Throat exercises

The doctor can suggest some throat exercises that will help in managing the condition.

Sleep apnea treatment options

  • Option 1: CPAP
  • Option 2: Other breathing devices
  • Option 3: Dental devices
  • Option 4: Sleep apnea implants
  • Option 5: Surgery

Where to turn for help

Your first place to seek help is the dentist near you who will let you know about your condition and possible treatment.