If you sometimes experience shortness of breath while sleeping, you may be suffering from a condition called sleep apnea. Read about how to deal with it here.
People with sleep apnea stop breathing for a brief time as they sleep. Because they do not inhale enough oxygen, people with this condition often gasp and wake up. In most cases, they are not aware they have stopped breathing.
Besides fatigue, sleep apnea causes several other health complications. Left untreated, the condition may:
Although this condition can be treated with medication, breathing devices, and surgery, lifestyle changes have proven effective in helping you improve your sleeping habits and life quality. Here are some of them:
Doctors often advise sleep apnea patients to shed some weight. Obesity in your upper body increases the risk of narrow nasal passages and airway obstruction. As you sleep, these obstructions may cause a sudden stoppage of breathing. It is therefore good to maintain a healthy weight so your airways are always clear and sleep apnea symptoms are reduced. Studies indicate that weight loss in sleep apnea patients eliminates the need for CPAP therapy or upper airway surgery. Although this condition can be eliminated with weight loss, regaining the weight brings it back.
Regular exercise increases your energy levels, strengthens your heart, and improves sleep apnea. Yoga in particular besides improving your respiratory strength encourages oxygen flow. Sleep apnea is characterized by increased saturation of oxygen in the blood. Through its breathing exercises, yoga is capable of improving oxygen levels. Resultantly, it reduced sleep interruptions.
Although this may seem like an insignificant effort, the results will amaze you. Besides reducing sleep apnea symptoms, altering your sleep position also lets you sleep more peacefully. A study conducted in 2006 found that most sleep apnea cases depend on your sleeping posture. Other studies have shown that the supine position worsens sleep apneas symptoms. For some people, sleeping on their sides can return their breathing to normal. A 2002 study however indicated that children with this condition sleep better lying on their backs.
This device modifies the air. Dry air irritates the respiratory system and body. A humidifier opens up your airways, decreases congestion, and encourages clearer breathing.to reap more benefits from the humidifier, add peppermint, eucalyptus oil, or lavender to it. These oils are known for their soothing and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Limiting your intake of alcohol and quitting smoking altogether reduces sleep apnea symptoms. Your throat muscles control breathing and alcohol is known to relax them. This may result in snoring and a fragmented sleep cycle. It also inflames your airways and blocks your airflow. Just like alcohol, using tobacco can also cause your airways to be inflamed and swell. A study conducted in 20212 revealed that one of the risk factors for sleep apnea is smoking, so quitting smoking will help deal with this condition.
These appliances work by repositioning the tongue or jaw to ensure your airways are always open as you sleep. The major types of oral appliances are tongue stabilizing devices and mandibular advancement devices. They move your tongue or lower jaw forward to reduce obstructions in the throat. You can get them at the local store or have a dentist custom-fit them. Dentists recommend these devices for sleep apnea patients that can’t use CPAP devices.
The CPAP machine can be used to treat sleep apnea. You only need to put a mask over your mouth and/or nose while sleeping. The mask is then hooked to a machine that constantly delivers a flow of air to your nose. The airflow ensures your airways remain open and you can breathe normally and not snore.
If your throat is too narrow because of a medical condition, surgery will be inevitable. Such conditions include overbite, enlarged tonsils, and deviated nasal septum. Here are some of the most common sleep apnea surgeries:
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