If you snore, especially if you snore loudly or wake up gasping for air, then you might have sleep apnea. While it is important to note that not everyone who snores loudly has sleep apnea, those who do should be evaluated by a sleep medicine physician. If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea after a comprehensive evaluation at a sleep clinic, your doctor may recommend the following treatment options.
One of the most commonly prescribed interventions in the management of obstructive sleep apnea is CPAP therapy with a CPAP machine. Also known as continuous positive airway pressure therapy, this option requires the use of a machine that blows clean air into your airway to keep it open and free from obstruction.
CPAP therapy facilitates an optimal pattern of breathing and reduces snoring and gasping. If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to daytime sleepiness and raise your risks for cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
If your doctor prescribes CPAP therapy, they will instruct you on its proper usage, which will include making sure that the tubing and mask are kept clean. Failure to clean the tubing and mask may result in a bacterial infection of the respiratory tract.
Home Treatment Options
Your sleep medicine doctor may also recommend various home treatment options to manage your obstructive sleep apnea. One of the most important home interventions may include losing weight. Excess fat around your neck can obstruct your airway, which is a significant risk factor for severe sleep apnea. Excess abdominal fat also puts pressure on your diaphragm, which can further impair an effective breathing pattern.
Another home remedy for sleep apnea is raising the head of your bed. You can either prop yourself up on a few pillows or put blocks under the feet of the head of your bed. Sleeping with the head of your bed elevated will help keep your airway open and free from obstruction so that you do not snore or have apnea episodes. Lying flat while sleeping can compress your trachea, especially if you have excess adipose tissue surrounding your neck. Avoiding alcoholic beverages before bed, managing acid reflux disease, and avoiding antihistamines can also help discourage apnea episodes.
If you suffer from daytime sleepiness, snore, or if you awaken from a sound sleep gasping for air, make an appointment with your primary care doctor. If they suspect that you have apnea, you may be referred to a sleep medicine doctor for further evaluation and treatment. Contact a clinic, such as Elkview General Hospital, for more information.