Sleep apnea is a medical condition that makes people stop breathing while they sleep. Because of this, most people suffering from the condition cannot sleep well. Throughout the night, they repeatedly stop breathing, jolting them awake, gasping for air. While it’s not a fatal disease, it can diminish a person’s quality of life and lead to potentially serious health problems.
There are three types of sleep apnea. First is the central sleep apnea (CSA), which is caused by the brain’s inability to send signals to the muscles that control breathing. It is often caused by a serious underlying condition. Second is the most common type, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), caused by an obstruction in the mouth. The muscles of the throat relax, obstructing the airway for breathing.
Sometimes, both OSA and CSA can occur in a person. Treatment, however, is the same with OSA.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, .9% of people in the US have CSA, while OSA occurs in 2-9%. Treatments vary depending on the severity of one’s symptoms. For mild cases, lifestyle changes can work. If it’s a moderate to severe case, advance treatment will be needed. If you have mild apnea symptoms, try out these lifestyle changes and home remedies.
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Obesity affects 60% of OSA patients, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Because of this, it’s a major concern for somnologists, or sleep doctors, who often advise patients to lose weight.
The airway can be deformed in an obese person, causing disturbances in breathing while sleeping. Keeping a fit body is a crucial first step that can help minimize symptoms of sleep apnea.
Lose excess weight first, and then maintain it. Limit eating fast food and processed foods. As much as possible, don’t drink high-calorie beverages such as smoothies and frappes.
Most importantly, be physically active. If you exercise regularly, it can strengthen your heart and improve sleep. Even just 10 minutes of daily intensive exercises can help.
Avoid Alcohol and Smoking
If you drink alcohol, it will make the muscles in your throat that control breathing relax while you sleep. It can also cause inflammation of your airways, blocking the flow of air. In turn, you snore loudly, causing interrupted sleep.
Smoking also leads to inflammation of the airways. Avoid alcohol and quit smoking can prevent the inflammation you could experience. It will also improve your health, reducing symptoms of sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is sometimes caused by an oral or maxillofacial issue. You’ll need an oral surgeon to correct this problem. You can be a candidate for jaw advancement or chin advancement surgery. These procedures open up your nasal passages, airway, and the area surrounding your tongue.
On the other hand, a dentist can create oral appliances that can help you breathe while you sleep. Oral appliances reposition your tongue (tongue stabilizing devices) or jaw (mandibular advancement devices), which act as obstructions, to keep your airway open while sleeping.
According to Healthline magazine, oral appliances can be recommended for patients who can’t tolerate using bulky sleep apnea machines.
Change Your Sleeping Position
It’s not ideal for sleep apnea patients to sleep on their backs. You can sleep on your side or raise pillows on your head to remedy this.
However, if you struggle with sleeping on your side and always revert to a supine position, you can use a positioning pillow or device. A positioning pillow or device can prevent you from sleeping on your back.
Use a Humidifier
Dry air can irritate the respiratory system and your throat. Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air in your room. Add some essential oils like eucalyptus, peppermint, and lavender, too. It will help open your airways, preventing congestion, which encourages clear breathing.
Humidifiers are helpful, but you need to keep them clean to prevent mold and bacteria growth.
Try Relaxation Exercises
Try relaxation exercises such as yoga and meditation. People suffering from sleep apnea have lower oxygen saturation in their blood. Relaxation exercises can strengthen your respiratory system, encouraging oxygen flow. Yoga, in particular, includes breathing exercises that can help increase your body’s oxygen levels, minimizing sleep interruptions as a result.
Get Yourself Tested
If you’re unsure whether you have sleep apnea or not, it’s better to have yourself tested. According to the National Sleep Foundation, many people are still undiagnosed, never getting the proper treatments they need. If left untreated, sleep apnea can also affect your mental health.
Sleep testing can get you diagnosed. You will then receive the right treatment to improve your quality of life.
Meta title: Home Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea
meta desc: Mild sleep apnea symptoms can be addressed with a few lifestyle changes. If you want to manage your symptoms and sleep better, follow these tips.