Sleep Apnea Treatment At Home
The leading cause of chronic sleep deprivation is sleep apnea, and it can lead to daytime sleepiness. The other possible consequences are slow reflexes, poor concentration, and an elevated probability of injuries. Sleep apnea can also contribute to mood changes, anxiety, and depression. Moreover, sleep apnea may cause severe health complications, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, liver issues, and sudden weight loss.
According to statistics, almost 45 million American population is having a clinical history of sleeping disorder, obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a treatable condition, and it can be treated at home without CPAP treatment and various strategies. The clinical signs and symptoms of sleep apnea can be alleviated and restore your regular sleeping pattern.
Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder which can affect both children and adults. Characteristics of sleep apnea are:
- Periods of apnea (period of cessation of breathing).
- Periods of hypopnea (reduced breathing period).
Both of these events are considered to have the same pathophysiology and equal impact on affected individuals.
The most common type of sleep apnea is Obstructive Sleep Apnea,which refers to the cessation of involuntary breathing during sleep for a specific period. The cause of obstructive sleep apnea is complete or partial upper airway collapse or blockage of the airway during sleep due to intermittent relaxation of throat muscles.
Contrary to obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnearesults due to failure of brain signals to respiratory control.
If an individual suffers from both OSA and central sleep apnea, then it is known to be as Complex sleep apneaor treatment-emergent central sleep apnea.
Prevalence of sleep apnea:
According to the researches, the prevalence of sleep apnea is relatively higher among the population within the range of 9 to 38 percent. Sleep apnea is more prevalent among men as compared to women, and with advancing age, its prevalence has been observed to reach as higher as in 90% of the population.
According to research published in the European Respiratory Journal, Non-CPAP therapies for sleep apnea are the best ways to treat sleep apnea. Due to a high prevalence rate of sleep apnea, it's now time to switch to Non-CPAP therapies.
The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea. In this type of sleeping disorder, there is an obstruction of the airway, which results in pauses in breathing and loud snoring. Sleep apnea is associated with the physical and psychological health of a person.
Sign and symptoms of sleep apnea:
The most common and frequent signs and symptoms of sleep apnea are:
- Restlessness while sleeping
- Insomnia or waking up for longer
- Behavioral and mood changes
- Memory deficits.
- Sleepiness, fatigue, or lethargy during day time
- Loud and frequent snoring.
- The irregular pattern of waking up from sleep with sensations of gasping or choking
- Dry or sore throat.
- Headaches in the morning.
- Frequent nocturia (going to the bathroom at night)
Highly influential and well-researched risk factors for sleep apnea are:
- Higher BMI (by the increase of one unit in BMI, chances of developing sleep apnea increase by 14%).
- Advancing age (risk increases with the advancement in age).
- Males are generally more susceptible to sleep apnea as compared to women. Men have four times more chances of developing sleep apnea than women. While, in women during pregnancy and menopause, sleep apnea can be frequently prevalent).
- Genetics (studies show that 25% to 40% of patients have a family history of these disorders in their genes).
- Alcohol consumption (alcohol slows down the breathing as it lowers the drive to breathe. Furthermore, it relaxes the throat muscles thus causing the collapse of the upper airway, which results in snoring).
- Tobacco use.
- Snoring (can affect directly by narrowing of the pharynx or indirectly as nasal diseases).
- Sleepiness (deprivation of sleep can increase apneic activity).
- Medications (sedative medications, some antihistamines, as well as sleep-promoting agents, can directly affect individuals. Some antihypertensive agents (blood pressure-lowering drugs) can increase or decrease the activity of apnea by as much as 20 percent).
- Nasal obstruction.
- Sinus problem.
- Large tonsils.
Treatment of Sleep apnea at home without modalities:
Mild episodes of apnea can be treated at home without the need for patterns (continuous positive airway pressure) just by life-style modification and quitting damaging habits.
A few of life-style modifications include:
- Maintenance of healthy weight
Increase in the bodyweight of a person, specifically, in upper regions can cause an increased risk of airways blockage and narrowing of nasal passages. This interference can result in obstruction of breathing for a significant period and may reoccur frequently.
- Regular exercise
Regular exercise helps in boosting the level of energy, strengthening of heart muscles, and improvement in the flow of oxygen. As sleep apnea is caused by a decrease in oxygen saturation so, exercises, specifically, yoga helps in increase of oxygen flow and reduction in the frequency of sleep interruption.
- Proper Sleeping position
Sleeping in supine (lying on back) position can significantly affect sleep, causing an increase in snoring and blockage of airways. That’s why sleeping in a side-lying position is recommended by health practitioners to avoid these disorders.
- Cessation of smoking and tobacco use
Use of tobacco or cigarettes can result in the swelling of the upper airway tract, which in turn results in apneic activity and snoring.
- Avoiding consumption of alcohol, and medication which may result in sleepiness or sleep-inducing pills which can result in sleep apnea.
- Use of humidifier
A humidifier is a device used to moisturize the air. Dry air can irritate the respiratory system and body, resulting in congestion and irregular breathing. Use of humidifier can decrease the risk of developing congestion and breathing problems.
For further benefits, the addition of different essential oils as eucalyptus oil, lavender oil, and peppermint oil is encouraged. These oils are best known for their anti-inflammatory and soothing actions.
- Elevation of HOB
Head of the bed should be elevated at about 4 to 6 inches either by the use of wedge or cervical pillows.
- Throat exercises:
Gargling, pursed-lip breathing (as if blowing a candle), pressing the tongue against the floor of the mouth, gently holding the tongue between teeth, and deep breathing exercise can help in relief from sleeping disorders just before sleep.
An exciting yet alternative way to treat sleep apnea is singing as it increases muscles control in soft palate and throat, resulting in a reduction of sleep apnea and snoring caused as a result of laxity of these muscles.
- Avoidance of heavy meals and caffeine
Try to avoid the intake of caffeine and heavy meals for almost two hours before going to bed.
Sleep apnea is a disorder related to sleep disturbances. These disorders are caused by obstruction of airways resulting in cessation of breathing for a specific time or irregularity in breathing. Dental problems can be of great concern for sleep apnea. Research has revealed that specific dental issues can also lead to sleep apnea. Therefore, it is also recommended to have regular dental check-up.
There are several treatments options available for these disorders, but a few guidelines which can be followed at home for their treatment are lifestyle modifications and adaptation of healthy life habits. These adaptations not only treat mild stages of these disorders but also decrease the risk of further complications associated with them.
- Denolf, P. L., Vanderveken, O. M., Marklund, M. E., & Braem, M. J. (2016). The status of cephalometry in the prediction of non-CPAP treatment outcome in obstructive sleep apnea patients. Sleep medicine reviews, 27, 56-73.
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- Young, T., Peppard, P. E., & Gottlieb, D. J. (2002). Epidemiology of obstructive sleep apnea: a population health perspective. American journal of respiratory and critical care medicine, 165(9), 1217-1239.
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