Obstructive sleep apnea is a potentially life-threatening condition, so it's important to seek treatment for it. Research has found that there are connections between sleep apnea and what is called allostatic load. Allostatic load is when your body goes through too much allostasis, which is how your body tries to regain a balance in the neurobiological and physiologic systems when affected by stressors, both internally and externally.
An example of allostasis in sleep apnea is when your heart rate increases when you stop breathing momentarily, which may explain why those who have sleep apnea are more prone to developing cardiovascular diseases due to the allostatic load. Because of this, treatment is essential. Here are several treatment options.
A CPAP machine is the main go-to treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. CPAP means continuous airway pressure. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when your airway collapses when you inhale while you sleep, which closes off your airway and prevents you from breathing. Wearing a CPAP mask provides you with constant pressure on your airway to keep it open when you breathe. The main problem with using this device is compliance. Sometimes, people feel it's too uncomfortable or they feel claustrophobic when wearing one.
An alternative to CPAP machines is a dental appliance that is designed to prevent the collapsing of the airway. It does this by sliding the jaw forward or by keeping the tongue in the proper position so the airway doesn't collapse. These appliances are custom-fitted and a viable alternative for those who don't do well with CPAP masks.
If it's difficult to adhere to wearing a CPAP mask or dental devices nightly, it's a good idea to have behavioral therapy to see if that will help. This type of therapy treatment helps you change emotions and behaviors from negative to positive. For those who don't like wearing a CPAP mask due to claustrophobia or discomfort, this may mean cognitive behavioral therapy. Positional therapy is another type of behavioral strategy that may work for those who usually sleep on their backs when the collapsing of the airway typically happens.
For those who continue to have problems with wearing CPAP masks or are unable to for some reason, surgery is an option. Several different types of surgical procedures can remove or reduce the amount of extra tissue in the throat, soft palate, tonsils, uvula, adenoids, tongue, or epiglottis (where the tongue meets the throat). These surgical procedures are done by an otolaryngologist, which is an ear, nose, and throat doctor.
Which solution is right for you? Contact obstructive sleep apnea treatment services to learn more.