Sleep apnea is not a new condition, in fact it has been around humankind for ages, but the most significant progress in treating this condition started only in the 80’s when the first CPAP Device (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) was invented. Today there are several clinically proven sleep apnea treatments to help this troublesome sleep disorder. Below is a look at the best treatment methods science and nature have to offer:
Positional Therapy – simply to stop sleeping on your back, i.e., in a supine position, since sleeping on your side helps your breathing return to normal.
Mouth and Throat Exercises – technically referred to as myofunctional therapy or oropharyngeal exercises, can help by toning the muscles behind the tongue, which can become floppy overtime causing a constricted airway. Regular myofunctional therapy can help control sleep apnea.
Humidifiers – help open airways and decrease congestion by adding moisture to the air. Dry air irritates the respiratory system, so adding moisture promotes clearer breathing.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) or Bi-level Positive Airway Pressure (BPAP) – CPAP therapy uses a machine to deliver a constant and steady flow of air, often passed through a heated humidifier. This creates a cushion along the upper airway so that the throat does not collapse and obstruct the breathing process. BPAP differs slightly in that there are different pressure settings for inhaling and exhaling.
Oral Appliances – People who have trouble with CPAP machines, whether due to noise or comfort issues, can try using oral appliances. Oral appliances are small devices similar to mouth guards that reposition the lower jaw in such a way to reduce airway obstructions.
Adaptive Servo-ventilation (ASV) – Similar to CPAP therapy, ASV is also used for delivering positive airway pressure. However, ASV treatment differs from CPAP therapy in that it doesn’t deliver a fixed air pressure like the CPAP. Rather, the pressure continuously adjusts according to the breathing and feedback of the patient.
Surgery – as a last-resort treatment. The type of surgery performed will depend on the patient’s age and the cause of the sleep apnea. Surgery options include tissue shrinkage or tissue removal, nasal surgery to fix a deviated septum, jaw repositioning, surgically implanted rods, nerve stimulation, and in severe cases, the creation of a new air passageway.