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Non-Surgical Options for Sleep Apnea
Surgery can be a frightening or concerning option for patients who suffer from the symptoms of sleep apnea, but it can be considered a last resort procedure for the majority of people. Today, most doctors recommend non-surgical treatments before advocating for surgery as a way of relieving symptoms of this sleep disorder. Patients can be expected to make several lifestyle changes as a path towards better sleep and improved overall health.
Better choices for better sleep
Patients seeking non-invasive methods for sleep apnea treatment can start at home by incorporating a combination of healthier foods, more exercise and specially designed devices.
Use of a CPAP mask to treat sleep apnea
Continuous positive airway pressure technology is championed by many doctors as a method of minimizing the symptoms of sleep apnea in patients. With this treatment, a patients wear either nose tubes or a mask during sleep, while a connected machine pushes compressed air through the nasal passages to the lungs. This constant movement of air ensures that the patient receives necessary oxygen while also maintaining proper support for the airway in the throat. Patients who use CPAP devices have reported better quality of sleep and less fatigue or exhaustion.
Focus on sensible weight loss
Patients who report symptoms of sleep apnea are often categorized as clinically overweight or obese. Doctors and medical researchers have studied the connection between excess weight and sleep apnea, and many studies correlate higher weight with higher presence of the condition. By reducing a patient’s weight, the pressure of fat is removed from the throat and chest, which leads to better airflow during sleep.
Making healthier choices
A few dietary and lifestyle improvements can change the course of sleep apnea in patients by way of weight loss. Incorporating more fresh fruits and vegetables as well as increased amounts of protein and fiber is a great way to start. Limiting processed foods, alcohol and meals high in sugar and starch is also recommended. Simple exercises such as taking neighborhood walks, opting for the stairs instead of the elevator and parking the car further away from a destination are easy ways to get the body moving.
Investing in dental appliances
A doctor or dentist can recommend several devices that can assist in promoting better oral posture during sleep. Many patients sleep in improper positions during the night, often flat on the back. This can lead to the tongue blocking the throat, the neck bending incorrectly and the airway becoming obstructed. Sleep aids such as mouth guards can help comfortably adjust the jaw to a better sleep position and reduce snoring.
Training in new sleep positions
In addition to changing the way a patient’s jaw rests during sleep, many doctors recommend entirely changing the posture of a sleeping patient. People at risk for sleep apnea are advised to avoid sleeping flat on the back. Instead, it is better to rest elevated on pillows to promote sinus drainage and unblocked airflow. Lying on the side can also help maintain an open airway and minimize snoring.
Surgery can be an invasive procedure for patients suffering from sleep apnea. However, it may be avoided through dedicated commitment to lifestyle changes.
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