Sleep apnea, as a medical diagnosis, is beginning to be taken more seriously by both doctors and members of the general public. The sleep disorder is marked by an individual stopping breathing while they are sleeping. This happens multiple times throughout the night. It can lead to daytime fatigue, causing it to be dangerous to drive or to operate heavy machinery.
There are numerous ways to treat sleep apnea, such as prescription medication, surgery, and medical devices. The latter may often be the first type of treatment considered, as there is no chance of potential side effects. These devices are especially useful if the patient suffers from the obstructive type of apnea. This type is when there is an actual obstruction occurring that is causing decreased air flow in the upper respiratory tract.
A CPAP machine, or a device that provides (continuous positive airway pressure) is one of the most common devices for treating sleep apnea. When this device is used, the sufferer wears a mask that seals over their nose or their nose and mouth. The mask connects firmly to a blower and a series of hoses. The machine then creates positive pressure to force the individual’s airway open, preventing the body from sealing off the patient’s airway with the throat, tongue, etc.
While many patients are concerned at first about how they’ll be able to sleep at night while wearing a CPAP mask, they’re often able to adjust to it and find that their quality of sleep, and quality of life, dramatically increase.
Most achieve much better sleep after being properly fitted with a CPAP machine. A second option for some individuals is a dental appliance that treats their sleep apnea. This type of device can help treat mild to moderate apnea, but is not recommended for patients with severe sleep apnea.
The devices are typically fitted by dental professionals. Several types are available, but the goal is typically to move the lower jaw forward and out to open the airway, while also increasing the actual size of the airway.
Some types of devices may also move the tongue forward and out of the way so that it doesn’t obstruct the airway. Some of these devices take some time for the patient to get used to sleeping with, but often patients find that they are helpful.
If you think that you will be uncomfortable wearing one of these devices, there may also be additional paths that you can choose, such as having surgery or opting for prescription medication. Surgery may not be completely successful, however, and should be discussed fully with your sleep specialist before you make a final decision.
If you prefer to use a sleep apnea device, it’s certainly a good idea to be sure that you’ve received the correct diagnosis, and that your condition will fully respond to manual intervention. Your physician can tell you where to go for a second opinion.
If the tests that are performed show that you definitely have obstructive sleep apnea, you may be an excellent candidate to gain some relief from a sleep apnea device.