Exploring Therapy For Sleep Apnea: Symptoms, Treatment Methods & Benefits!

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Published on: 20-Mar-2024

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Anvesha Chowdhury

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Exploring Therapy For Sleep Apnea: Symptoms, Treatment Methods & Benefits!

Exploring Therapy For Sleep Apnea: Symptoms, Treatment Methods & Benefits!

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Imagine this: you drift off to sleep, only to be jolted awake moments later, gasping for air. This cycle repeats throughout the night, leaving you exhausted and wondering if a decent night's sleep is just a distant dream. If this scenario sounds familiar, you might be battling sleep apnea, a common sleep disorder impacting millions worldwide. 

Sleep apnea is a common but potentially very serious sleep disorder characterised by repeated pauses in breathing during sleep. These pauses, known as apnea, can occur multiple times in a single night, disrupting normal sleep patterns and leading to a range of health complications. This is why therapy for sleep apnea is important along with recognising the symptoms and devising personalised management methods.  

In this blog, we will explore the peculiar phenomenon of sleep apnea, why it occurs and how therapy for sleep apnea can help individuals regain restful sleep and improve their quality of life. So, readers, it's time to ditch the daytime fatigue and wake up feeling refreshed, energised, and ready to dominate your day! Keep reading! 


Table Of Contents 

1. What Is The Sleep Apnea Disorder? 

2. What Are The Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea? 

3. What Is The Most Effective Treatment For Sleep Apnea? 

4. What Are The Benefits Of Therapy? 

5. How Do You Fix Sleep Apnea Naturally? 

6. Dietitian's Recommendation 

7. The Final Say 

8. FAQs 

9. References 


What Is The Sleep Apnea Disorder? 

Sleep apnea is a condition where you may have problems breathing while sleeping. It is a condition where breathing recurringly starts as well stops while you are asleep. Before getting deep into therapy options, it's essential to understand the two primary types of sleep apnea:  

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)  

  • Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) 

OSA is the most common form of sleep apnea, and it usually occurs when your muscles in the throat relax excessively during sleep, leading to a blockage of the airway known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). On the other hand, when the brain fails to send significant signals to the muscles that control breathing, it is known as central sleep apnea (CSA). Both these types of sleep apnea can result in daytime fatigue, fragmented sleep, and other health issues if left untreated. 

What Are The Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea? 

Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleeping disorders people face. Here is how you can identify if you have sleep apnea, if you resonate with any of the following sleep apnea symptoms:  

1. Loud Snoring 

One of the most common sleep apnea symptoms is loud snoring, often accompanied by snorting or gasping sounds during sleep.  

2. Pauses in Breathing 

Individuals with sleep apnea may experience frequent pauses in breathing during sleep, often followed by choking or gasping for air as breathing resumes,   

3. Excessive Daytime Sleepiness 

People afflicted with sleep apnea can experience fatigue and excessive daytime sleepiness, especially at workplaces. The fragmented sleep at night impacts your productivity and ability to concentrate and individuals may struggle to stay awake or alert during the day. 

4. Morning Headaches 

Among people with sleep apnea, waking up with a headache in the morning or feeling groggy and unrested despite a full night's sleep is common. 

5. Dry Mouth Or Sore Throat 

People often breathe through their mouths during sleep, which can occur with sleep apnea. It may lead to a dry mouth or a sore throat upon waking up. 

6. Difficulty Concentrating And Memory Problems 

Prolonged restless and near-sleepless nights can lead to difficulty concentrating, memory lapses, and decreased mental sharpness. Further, sleep apnea can impair cognitive function. 

7. Irritability And Mood Changes 

Feelings of frustration, irritability, depression, and mood swings caused by sleep apnea due to sleep deprivation. 

8. Decreased Libido 

Leading to erectile dysfunction or decreased libido in men, sleep apnea may also affect sexual function. 

9. Frequent Night-time Urination (Nocturia) 

Some individuals with sleep apnea may experience nocturia or the need to urinate frequently during the night, disrupting sleep further. 

10. Morning Fatigue and Muscle Weakness 

Individuals may experience muscle weakness or aching upon waking and feeling exhausted, despite spending the recommended hours in bed, which is another common symptom of sleep apnea. 

 

What Is The Most Effective Treatment For Sleep Apnea? 


There are various types of therapy for sleep apnea, including CPAP therapy, oral appliances, and surgery in severe cases. The primary goal of therapy for sleep apnea is to keep the airway open and prevent pauses in breathing. Compliance with therapy for sleep apnea is crucial for effectively managing the condition and improving overall quality of life. Based on the above-mentioned sleep apnea symptoms, here are some treatments and therapies:  

1. Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Therapy 

This is the most-widely accepted therapy for sleep apnea. It requires a person to wear a mask while he is sleeping, and that mask is attached to a machine that continuously delivers a stream of air at a pressure level that keeps the airway open during sleep. CPAP therapy is the most common and powerful treatment for moderate to severe OSA. CPAP therapy helps prevent apnea and significantly improves sleep quality and daytime alertness for many individuals with sleep apnea. 

2. Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure (BiPAP) Therapy 

BiPAP therapy is like the above-mentioned CPAP therapy but what makes it different is that it delivers two different pressure levels. This therapy is often recommended for individuals who have difficulty tolerating CPAP with a higher-pressure during inhalation and a lower pressure during exhalation or who require higher pressure settings to maintain open airways. 

3. Adaptive Servo-Ventilation (ASV) Therapy 

Another therapy for sleep apnea includes using ASV devices that continuously monitor breathing patterns and adjust pressure levels to maintain a stable breathing pattern throughout the night. ASV therapy is primarily used to treat central sleep apnea and complex sleep apnea syndrome, which involves a combination of obstructive and central sleep apnea 

4. Oral Appliance Therapy 

Helping to keep the airway open, oral appliances also known as mandibular advancement devices, are custom-fitted mouthpieces that are worn during sleep to reposition the jaw and tongue. For those who cannot tolerate CPAP therapy, these devices are often recommended for individuals with mild to moderate OSA. 

5. Lifestyle Modifications 

These may include maintaining a healthy weight, sleeping on your side instead of your back, avoiding alcohol and sedatives before bedtime, and quitting smoking. In addition to medical therapies, certain lifestyle changes can help improve sleep apnea symptoms modifications can complement other therapies and contribute to overall treatment success. 
Also Read: Sleep Better: Everything You Need To Know About Sleep  


What Are The Benefits Of Therapy? 

Effective therapy for sleep apnea offers numerous benefits beyond improved sleep quality. These include: 

1. Reduced Risk of Cardiovascular Complications 

The reoccurring episodes of oxygen deprivation and the strain on the cardiovascular system during apnea can contribute to these conditions. Sleep apnea is closely connected to a major risk of various cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension, stroke, coronary artery disease, and heart failure. By reducing the severity of sleep apnea, therapy can lower the risk of cardiovascular complications and improve overall heart health. 

 

By alleviating the strain on the heart and blood vessels Effective therapy for sleep apnea, such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or adaptive servo-ventilation (ASV), helps maintain proper oxygen levels during sleep.  

2. Improved Daytime Functioning 

Individuals experience more restful sleep and reduce daytime sleepiness. Sleep apnea disturbs the normal sleep cycle, leading to distorted sleep and excessive daytime sleepiness. As a result, they often report reduced alertness, mental clarity, and overall cognitive function, leading to less performance at work, school, and daily activities. This can impair cognitive function, memory, concentration, and overall productivity during waking hours. However, therapy for sleep apnea improves daytime cognitive functioning. 

3. Enhanced Emotional Well-being 

Restful sleep promotes the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, which also affect your mood. Chronic sleep deprivation due to unattended sleep apnea can hamper your mental health and emotional well-being negatively. Therapy for sleep apnea not only improves sleep quality but also helps stabilise mood and regulate emotions. Disruption of sleep at night can contribute to mood disturbances such as irritability, prolonged stress, anxiety and depression. As a result, individuals undergoing sleep apnea therapy often experience a more positive outlook, reduced emotional distress, and better coping mechanisms for stressors in daily life. 

 

4. Increased Energy Levels And Vitality 

Therapy for sleep apnea alleviates fatigue and elevates energy levels. When left untreated, sleep apnea often manifests as fatigue and lethargy due to the body's struggle for sufficient restorative rest during nighttime hours. The therapy boosts vitality and increases involvement in physical activities, hobbies, and social interactions; this improves overall quality of life. After a night of uninterrupted sleep, individuals often report feeling energised, refreshed, and primed for the day's challenges. 

5. Improved Quality of Life and Relationships 

Not only does therapy for sleep apnea enhance the individual's sleep, but it also promotes a more harmonious sleeping environment which benefits their loved ones. Various aspects of daily life such as relationships with family members, partners and co-workers can undergo significant impact due to sleep apnea. Better communication, emotional connection, and intimacy within relationships thrive on restful sleep; this leads all involved parties towards an enriched lifestyle that is both fulfilling and satisfying.  

 

6. Reduced Risk Of Accidents 

Daytime sleepiness and impaired cognitive function resulting from untreated sleep apnea can escalate the risk of accidents, which can occur both at home and in professional settings. By improving sleep quality and reducing daytime sleepiness, therapy for sleep apnea helps mitigate these risks and enhances safety for the affected individual and those around them. Individuals with untreated sleep apnea are more prone to motor vehicle accidents, workplace injuries, and other accidents due to decreased alertness and slower reaction times.  


How Do You Fix Sleep Apnea Naturally? 

Sleep apnea is a chronic disease that is not easily curable. Although CPAP remains a pioneering form of treatment, there are many alternative treatments for sleep apnea in adults, such as:   

Maintaining a Healthy Weight 

  • Losing weight by following a balanced diet regime and regular physical activity can reduce the severity of sleep apnea and improve overall breathing during sleep. 

  • Focus on maintaining weight around the neck area because excess accumulation of weight around the neck and throat area can contribute to obstructive sleep apnea by narrowing the airway. 

 

Exercising Regularly 

  • Engaging in regular physical activity or moving your body daily can help strengthen muscles, including those in the throat and airway, which may reduce the risk of airway collapse during sleep. 

  • You must incorporate at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise in your everyday routine and be consistent with it. 

Change your Sleep Position 

 

  • Sleeping on your side may be helpful because it would help in keeping the airway open. Sleeping on your back can aggravate sleep apnea symptoms by causing the tongue and soft tissues to collapse toward the back of the throat, obstructing airflow. 

  • Using pillows or positional devices to encourage side sleeping can be beneficial. 

Avoid Alcohol And Sedatives Before Bed 

  • Limiting or avoiding alcohol and sedatives before bedtime can help you improve your sleep quality and reduce the frequency of apneas. 

  • Alcohol and sedatives can relax your throat muscles and contribute to airway collapse, worsening sleep apnea symptoms. 

Quit Smoking 

  • Quitting smoking can reduce inflammation as smoking can aggravate inflammation and swelling in the airway, making it more capable to obstruction during sleep.  

  • It can also improve lung function and decrease the severity of sleep apnea. 

Elevate the Head of the Bed 

  • You can elevate the head of the bed by using a wedge pillow or adjustable bed frame that can help keep the airway open by preventing your tongue and soft tissues from collapsing backwards. This can reduce snoring and alleviate mild to moderate sleep apnea symptoms. 

Practice Good Sleep Hygiene 

  • You must establish a consistent sleep routine and creating a relaxing bedtime environment can promote restful sleep. 

  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule by sleeping timely, limit exposure to screens before bedtime, and create a comfortable sleep environment with dim lighting, comfortable bedding, and a cool room temperature. 

Use Nasal Decongestants 

  • Using nasal decongestants or nasal strips can often help you open the nasal passages and improve airflow during sleep. Nasal congestion can worsen sleep apnea by narrowing the nasal passages and increasing the likelihood of mouth breathing, which can contribute to airway collapse. 

Stay Hydrated 

  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep yourself hydrated and keep the airway moist. Dehydration can lead to increased mucus production and nasal congestion, which can exacerbate sleep apnea symptoms. 

Consider Alternative Therapies 

  • Acupuncture, yoga, or playing wind instruments, may strengthen the muscles involved in breathing and improve airway function. 

 

Dietitian's Recommendation 

A dietitian's advice for sleep apnea therapy includes maintaining a healthy weight through balanced nutrition, limiting alcohol and caffeine intake, and avoiding heavy meals close to bedtime. Consuming a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains can support overall health and improve sleep apnea symptoms. 

                                           Dt. Akshata Gandevikar 

 

The Final Say 

Therapy for Sleep apnea isn't just about getting a good night's sleep – it's about unlocking a healthier, happier you. By addressing the underlying issue of interrupted breathing, you can experience a cascade of benefits, from improved cognitive function and mood to reduced risk of heart disease and stroke. 

Whether through CPAP, BiPAP, ASV, oral appliances, or lifestyle modifications, there are effective treatment options available to suit the needs of each patient. Therapy for sleep apnea plays a critical role in managing the condition and improving the lives of affected individuals. If you suspect you or a loved one may have sleep apnea, it's essential to consult a healthcare professional for evaluation and guidance on the most suitable treatment approach. 


FAQs 

1. Can sleep apnea be cured naturally? 

Sleep apnea can be reduced naturally but cannot be cured completely. If you are facing issues of sever sleep apnea, you must consult a professional. 

2. What is an ideal treatment for sleep apnea without CPAP? 

Here are some ways you can treat sleep apnea without CPAP- 

  • A balanced diet regime and regular physical activity can reduce the severity of sleep apnea. 

  • Sleeping on your side rather than on your back may help keep the airway open. 

  • Using pillows or positional devices to encourage side sleeping can be beneficial. 

  • Avoid alcohol or sedatives before going to bed. 

  • Smoking can exacerbate inflammation and swelling in the airway, making it more capable to obstruction during sleep. 

  • You must establish a consistent sleep routine and creating a relaxing bedtime environment can promote restful sleep. 

3. What are some yoga breathing exercises for sleep apnea? 

  • Pranayama 

  • Camel Pose 

  • Cat-cow pose 

  • Locust Pose 

4. What are 3 symptoms of sleep apnea? 

  • Loud snoring 

  • Pauses in breathing 

  • Morning headaches 

 

5. Can sleep apnea be cured? 

Sleep apnea can be effectively managed, and symptoms improved with various treatments, but it may not be fully cured in all cases. 

6. Is there physical therapy for sleep apnea? 

While there isn't a specific physical therapy for sleep apnea, certain exercises like throat and tongue exercises may help strengthen muscles and reduce symptoms when combined with other treatments. 

References 

 

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