It’s dangerous for your health — people with this condition are at a higher risk of traffic accidents due to drowsiness. It’s also four times more likely they will suffer a stroke and three times more likely they will develop heart disease.
If you’re constantly fatigued throughout the day, you have high blood pressure and your partner reports that you snore constantly and possibly even stop breathing during the night, it’s time to see your doctor.
First, Get Diagnosed
This condition has a range of severity. Some people have only a mild case of sleep apnea that’s possible to treat without surgery. Some have serious obstructive sleep apnea that poses an immediate threat to their health.
Either way, you have to get diagnosed first. Keep track of how you sleep and bring your records and a list of your current medications to your doctor. They may want you to participate in a sleep study, which requires you to stay overnight at a sleep center. Your eye movement, heart rate, oxygen levels and respiratory flow are measured to determine if sleep apnea is an issue, and if so, how severe the condition is.
Next, Make Lifestyle Changes
Whether your case is mild or severe, a sleep apnea diagnosis is a sign you have to make some serious lifestyle changes. First, lose weight. Obesity intensifies sleep apnea symptoms.
Also, reduce your alcohol intake and quit smoking. Alcohol causes the tissues in the back of the throat to relax and block the airway. Smoking makes breathing hard when you’re sleeping and when you’re awake.
Oral Appliances or a CPAP Machine Is Your Best Bet
For most patients, treating sleep apnea with oral appliances or a continuous positive airway pressure machine (CPAP) is an effective first step.
Oral appliances such as mouthguards or mandibular advancement splints help position the mouth in such a way that breathing isn’t interrupted during sleep. Mouthguards help keep the lower jaw and tongue in the correct place. Mandibular advancement splints pull the lower jaw and tongue forward so they don’t block the airway.
A CPAP machine has a mask that fits over your mouth and blows a steady stream of oxygen into your throat.
Surgical Remedies Can Cure Breathing Problems
We offer surgical treatments for the most severe sleep apnea cases. When other nonsurgical treatments don’t work, we can make an alternative plan that could involve advancing the lower jaw, reducing the base of the tongue or removing the tonsils and adenoids. Call Northeast Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery to set up a consultation so we can plan how best to treat your sleep apnea.