Although the prevalence of sleep apnea is common, too few seek diagnosis and some struggle to be compliant with treatment. One way to combat this is by being educated on the condition in addition to knowing the right steps to take toward managing the symptoms so you can have a healthy life. The road to treatment doesn’t need to be overwhelming when you follow these simple steps.
What to Keep in Mind
As you may know, sleep apnea goes somewhat unnoticed and labeled as another issue like depression, poor diet or high blood pressure. These are actually often symptoms that indicate a person has undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea. Obstructive Sleep Apnea is defined as: a cessation of breathing where the throat muscles sporadically relax and block the airway during sleep. It frequently manifests as loud snoring.
Untreated Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) has serious health and economic consequences1. The health costs of not treating the disorder are an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, metabolic disease and even death. All of these health consequences can place a heavy financial burden on an individual and their family. Being compliant with treatment can help to offset these financial concerns.
Most everyone has experienced some form of sleep deprivation. This is somewhat normal over stressful seasons of life like the loss of a job or loved one. With OSA, sleep deprivation is more than a difficult season, because the disorder causes chronic sleep loss. An individual’s nightly rest won’t allow them to complete each sleep stage. As you can imagine, this leaves a person susceptible to sickness and mental health issues. This is why it’s incredibly important to follow through with treatment.
Step 1: Meet With Your Doctor
Your doctor will meet with you to go over the results of your sleep test. They will take into account your medical history, current systems and the sleep study observances. They may directly recommend Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) treatment in addition to referring you to other specialists that would be able to help discover the cause of your sleep apnea like an ENT or a neurologist.
Step 2: Therapy
Your doctors will then recommend what type of treatment will be best for you based on the accumulated information. There are a variety of different therapies, but the most common type is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). This is a sleeping device that helps aid in the flow of oxygen to the brain. It has been helping those with OSA since the 1980s2.
The other type of therapy that may be advised is an oral device. They look similar to a mouth guard prescribed by an oral surgeon. They help with jaw alignment to open up the airway for a better night’s sleep. This is a sufficient option for those with mild OSA or those who have difficulty adjusting to a CPAP machine.
Step 3: Surgery
Surgery is typically the last choice for treatment after the therapy options have not worked. Some surgeries that may help with OSA are tissue removal and jaw repositioning.
Step 4: Focus on Health
One of the causes of a sleep disorder is poor health. Sticking to a well-balanced diet and routinely exercising will help to lessen or eliminate the symptoms.
Step 4: Compliance
Treatment will simply not work unless it is enacted. There are many who struggle with compliance. If an individual is struggling, they should reach out to their doctor for help on how to make treatment work more comfortably for them. It may be something as simple as switching the mask size on a CPAP machine.
You will be prescribed a device from your doctor. There are many different types of CPAP machines that have various specifications. Some have adjusted airway pressure that slowly increases through the night. Some have integrated humidifiers and others are perfect for traveling. You will also need masks, tubing and cleaning supplies to help with the longevity of the product.
Any health diagnosis can be scary, but knowing what you need to do to improve your health is substantial in life. If you have questions about your diagnosis or think you may have sleep apnea, contact Advanced Sleep Medicine Services today!
- World J Otorhinolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2015 Sep; 1(1): 17–27. Published online 2015 Sep 8. doi: 10.1016/j.wjorl.2015.08.001
- New developments in the use of positive airway pressure for obstructive sleep apnea. Lucas M. Donovan, Schafer Boeder, Atul Malhotra, Sanjay R. Patel J Thorac Dis. 2015 Aug; 7(8): 1323–1342. doi: 10.3978/j.issn.2072-1439.2015.07.30