Driver sleeping soundly

Snoring, while annoying for others in the household, is a fairly harmless habit.  Sleep apnea, on the other hand, is a dangerous condition that may lead to very serious health risks.

If left untreated, sleep apnea can cause heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke.  That’s why it’s so important to seek medical advice if  you, or someone you know, suffers with sleep apnea. Consider the available treatments before real damage occurs.

Depending on the severity of your sleep apnea condition, you may have several treatment options available.

Treating Mild Sleep Apnea

Those dealing with mild cases of sleep apnea can benefit from some simple recommendations that will usually help the condition:

* If you are overweight, you should try to drop those excess pounds.  Fatty deposits in the neck can actually be responsible for causing an obstruction in the airway.

* Some people with mild sleep apnea only face the condition while sleeping on their backs. These patients are encouraged to find a way to stay sleeping on their sides.  A tennis ball placed inside a sock, and then sewn to the back of pajamas, is an easy solution.  When the patient rolls on to his or her back, the tennis ball causes discomfort, and the sleeper goes back to the side position.

* In some cases, a specialized mouthpiece may be available.  These mouthpieces are designed to bring the jaw forward, elevate the soft palate, and keep the tongue from rolling back in the mouth, each helping to keep the airway free of obstructions.

Treating Moderate Sleep Apnea

Some common treatments are available to help moderate cases of sleep apnea:

* A Continuous Positive Airway Pressure system, or CPAP, is a widely used method of treating moderate sleep apnea. Worn as a mask, this device provides a steady stream of oxygen during sleep. This continuous oxygen flow keeps the airways open all night long.

* Similar to the CPAP, a BiPAP features two different airflows, blowing oxygen at different pressures.  This provides variance in air pressure while inhaling and exhaling.

Treating Severe Sleep Apnea

If CPAP and other alternative methods fail, a doctor may suggest surgery.  There are several medical procedures available. Radio-frequency somnoplasty, tracheostomy, uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, mandibular myotomy and laser-assisted uvuloplasty are all common surgeries used to treat severe cases of sleep apnea.  There are a number of different surgical treatments, because there are varying causes of sleep apnea.  All of these types of surgery are similar, as each contributes to clearing the obstructed airway.

If you believe that you may have sleep apnea, you’ll need to find how severe your condition is, before treatment can begin.  Your first step is to find a trusted health care practitioner.  Look for a specialist that concentrates his or her efforts in this area.  Only a professional, highly trained in sleeping disorders, is able to assess your condition and help you find the best treatment option.  If surgery is recommended, take the time to consult with another doctor for a second opinion.

For many men and women, sleep apnea is a simple fact of life.  Even so, it doesn’t need to spell doom for your life, and for those around you.  Explore your treatment options today, before sleep apnea causes more serious health risks in the future.

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Filed under: Sleep Apnea