Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Treatment
There’s nothing good about sleep apnea. There’s nothing good about not being able to sleep. There is nothing good about not being able to breathe. And it’s absolutely the worst nightmare come true if you can’t breathe while sleeping. And that exactly is what sleep apnea is.
But there is a ray of hope. Treatment. Yes, sleep apnea can be treated, or, at least, managed.
What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious sleeping disorder where you stop breathing while sleeping and naturally, your sleep is interrupted. This can happen quite a number of times during the night. While some people only experience it a couple of times a night, some people may experience breathlessness for hundred times per night.
It is usually caused when some tissue blocks the nasal passage at the back of your throat. When this trend continues, your brain and the rest of the body suffers from a lack of oxygen which in the long term causes serious health complications.
How is it Diagnosed?
A person is suspected to have OSA from clinical symptoms and findings. The main complaints from the patient include
- Heavy snoring
- Frequenct awakening
- Morning headache
- Choking sensation during sleep
- Dryness in throat
- Day time drowsiness
Nevertheless, Sleep study is the gold standard to confirm the condition and to make a treatment plan.
Treatment Of Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Lifestyle Changes (Home Remedies)
Mild cases of sleep apnea can be managed effectively at home with a few changes in your way of life. For example,
- Gain a healthy weight.
- Exercise regularly, especially aerobic exercises.
- Avoid sedating substances like alcohol, sleeping pills etc.
- Sleep on your side and not on your back.
- If your nose is blocked for some reason like cold & flu, treat that immediately.
- Quit smoking.
- Stay away from dust, pollution, and harmful gases.
- Keep a check on your allergy and avoid allergens.
Initially, even a doctor will ask you to try these management techniques. But if these do not subside your problem, other treatment options can be opted for. But no matter what kind of treatment you are receiving for your obstructive sleep apnea, you will be wise to follow the aforementioned lifestyle practices.
Assistive Medical Devices
The most used technique to manage obstructive sleep apnea for people who are suffering from a moderate level of this condition is a CPAP or continuous positive airway pressure.
Just like the name suggests, a continuous positive airway pressure machine helps you sleep through the night by delivering air with mild pressure through your nasal passage. The pressure of air can be adjusted as it comforts you. A CPAP has a mouthpiece which fits over your nose and your mouth. However, some people find it distracting or uncomfortable initially. But it is best if you grow used to CPAP. This is a very effective way of treating your sleep apnea. These days, CPAP machines also come with a humidifier which enhances breathing and, hence, sleeping.
There are a few other kinds of breathing devices available for people who cannot adapt to a CPAP. Some devices help you in keeping your mouth all night long while some can bring your jaw forward and some others hold your tongue in a different position. But these devices can make your mouth and throat dry. Try using them with a humidifier. If none of these devices succeeds in increasing the quality of your life, then you must have a severe case of sleep apnea. And the ultimate treatment is surgery.
Removal Of Tissue: The aim of surgery is to free obstruction in upper airway so that air has more space to move in and out. Surgical planning depends on the sleep study report, clinical examination by ENT doctor and Sleep endoscopy finding. Surgery may involve nose, palate, tonsil and tongue base depending on the patient profile.
Implants: A small implant is inserted under the skin of your chest. This implant is capable of recognizing your breathing pattern and if there is an imbalance, it triggers the nerves to move your tongue aside so that you can breathe comfortably. As an alternative to CPAP, this device has proven to be highly effective.
Surgery For Severe Sleep Apnea: If your health condition regarding sleep apnea is so severe that none of the aforementioned treatments could give you relief and it has become a threat to your life, then last option is maxillofacial surgery which involves advancement of upper and lower jaw by few millimeters. It is called maxillo- mandibular Advancement.
Untreated obstructive sleep apnea reduces the quality of your life to a great extent. If you have trouble breathing while sleeping, you can consult our ENT specialist at Sunshine for proper treatment.
About the Doctor:
Dr Sampurna Ghosh MBBS, MS – ENT
Dr Sampurna Ghosh at Sunshine Hospitals has completed her MBBS and MS from one of the oldest and prestigious Govt. Medical Colleges in Kolkata. She has received innumerable Gold Medals/Awards during her Medical Career. She got her higher surgical training in Endoscopic Sinus Surgery and Obstructive Sleep Apnea under National and International Pioneers. She is also actively involved in multiple clinical research works. She constantly updates her clinical knowledge and surgical skills by attending surgical workshops and conferences regularly. She is trained to perform various microscopic and endoscopic Ear Surgeries, Laryngeal surgeries and Pediatric ENT surgeries. Her special expertise includes Endoscopic Sinus Surgery and Sleep Apnea Surgeries.
About Sunshine Hospitals: A Multi Super Speciality Institution, 500 bedded Sunshine Hospitals (Paradise Circle, Secunderabad) is promoted by globally reputed Joint Replacement Surgeon Dr AV Gurava Reddy (Orthopedic Doctor) and like-minded associates who share the objective of making world-standard healthcare available, affordable and accessible to the common man. Sunshine has now become one of the best hospitals for many treatments including Orthopedic, Gastroenterology, Cardiology, Trauma and Neurology.