What are the Best Sleep Apnea Treatments?
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Sleep apnea can be incredibly difficult to diagnose, as those who experience the condition are not actually awake when they are experiencing their primary symptom - their breathing intermittently stopping during sleep. While awake, people with sleep apnea may experience daytime tiredness, headaches and snoring, but these are the symptoms of thousands of other illnesses, some of which are far more common - and thus more likely to be investigated - than sleep apnea itself. As a result, a diagnosis of sleep apnea can take longer than the person experiencing the condition may hope.
Thankfully, while obtaining a diagnosis of sleep apnea can sometimes be troublesome, treatment of the condition is far simpler.
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)
CPAP is the most common treatment for sleep apnea. This treatment involves the person with sleep apnea wearing a mask when attempting to sleep. This mask is connected to a device that supplies continuous positive air pressure to the individual’s mouth and nose; this helps to ensure that their airways are kept open, which in turn helps to prevent apnea from occurring.
CPAP machines are an incredibly effective treatment for sleep apnea, which is due in no small part to how they can be customized. Every person with sleep apnea will use their CPAP at a different setting, tailored to their specific needs and preferences, and results are overwhelmingly positive as a result.
If you have sleep apnea but have yet to experience the benefits of CPAP, then it may be worth discussing this further with your ear, nose and throat doctor.
As beneficial as CPAP is, it is not suitable for everyone. Often, those who do not see results with CPAP have physiological reasons for doing so - for example, some people with sleep apnea experience the condition as a result of enlarged adenoids, or just a large amount of tissue at the back of their throats. In cases where there is a physiological basis for a person’s sleep apnea, CPAP alone may not be suitable, and surgery is worth considering.
The type of surgery that can be used depends on the physical cause of a person’s sleep apnea. For some, this will just mean removing excess tissue at the back of the throat; without the tissue, the airway does not become obstructed at night and sleep apnea ceases to be an issue. In other cases, surgery for sleep apnea will involve the removal of the adenoids or tonsils. The type of surgery that is suitable depends entirely on the individual and a good ear, nose and throat doctor will be able to discuss the types of surgery that may be beneficial for your specific circumstances.
There are other treatments available for sleep apnea, including dental products that reposition the jaw and lower tongue, weight loss and nerve stimulation. These treatments can be effective, but are far less common; your ear, nose and throat doctor is your best source for further information on whether they may be suitable for you.
Sleep apnea is a tough condition to diagnose, but it is reassuringly simple to treat. If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea or suspect you have the condition, then it is well worth speaking to an ear, nose and throat doctor in order to find the right treatment plan for you.