Sleep apnoea treatments to help you get a decent night’s sleep
You’ve just been informed that you suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA). In short, when you are snoozing, your throat muscles and tongue relax to such an extent that your tongue obstructs your airway and you cannot breathe.
Always awake, your brain sends alarm bells because your lungs aren’t getting any oxygen and you wake up gasping or choking for breath. This happens not once, not twice but possibly hundreds of times in a night. Enter constant and detrimental exhaustion and poor quality of life. But fear not – there are multiple ways to minimise sleep apnoea to safeguard your sleep and have you living it up in La La Land.
How can I treat OSA?
Specialising in all things sleep-related, seeing a sleep specialist should be your first port of call. They will determine the correct plan of treatment for your condition and invariably work with other specialists, including dentists, dieticians, exercise physiologists, psychologists, and technologists to support your slumber. Here are some options to consider:
CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure)
This nifty scuba-looking machine can help you to breathe better during sleep. By increasing the air pressure in your throat with a steady stream of air, the CPAP guarantees that your airway does not collapse while you sleep. It is gentle and quiet. A mask attached to the monitor, via tubing, is placed over your face while you sleep and breathe normally. CPAPs can be costly and are normally only advised for those with extreme cases of sleep apnoea.
Oral Appliance Therapy
A common and practical solution for most apnoea suffers, an oral appliance or Mandibular Advancement Splint (MAS) is a smart choice. A sleep dentist, or prosthodontist as they’re known, creates a device that looks like a mouth guard or retainer that is designed to relieve snoring and sleep apnoea. This retainer is worn only whilst you sleep, over your teeth, and it holds the tongue in place or slides your jaw forward so you can breathe freely. Many patients enjoy using a MAS because it is less bulky, subtler in appearance and convenient. A highly specialised prosthodontist like Dr Jim Ironside is one of the leaders in sleep dentistry in Sydney and can definitely assist in creating a MAS that works for your sleep situation.
Not as effective as a CPAP or a MAS appliance, surgery is an option that is normally a last resort. Surgeries range from those to reduce or eliminate extra tissue in the throat or even those when the jaw, nose and facial bones may be adjusted. Surgery should only be a consideration however, if a Sleep Specialist suggests so or if a CPAP or MAS really does not work for you.
In some cases, by simply changing aspects of your diet and going on a weight-loss programme, sleep apnoea symptoms may lessen or be completely eliminated. It has been said that patients with thicker necks who therefore have extra tissue, are more prone to sleep apnoea. Diet plays such a large role in our overall health and vitality so why not consider making a few changes? Consider foods with melatonin (like cherries, corn, asparagus and tomatoes); Omega-3 powerhouses (like salmon, tuna and shrimp); and Tryptophan-infused items found in staples like wheat, barley, oats and rice.
If your partner has noticed that you only snore while lying on your back, sleeping on your side could fix the wheeze. Known as positional therapy, consider changing how you sleep to open up your airway and breathe easily. There are tons of neat tricks to do to assist in staying on your side while you sleep. One of them is to attach a tennis ball to the back of your t-shirt or pyjamas to guarantee that every time you scuffle, you’ll end up back on your side.
Regardless of which treatment you choose, consider making some healthy lifestyle choices that can only benefit your sleeping habits. Think about quitting smoking or avoiding alcohol as these could exacerbate your sleep apnoea symptoms. Also, be strict with your bedtimes and routine and work towards getting a solid eight hours of sleep. If you still battle to get some decent ‘shut-eye’, chat to your doctor about Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and let the experts guide you.
Sleep Apnoea Treatment in Sydney
If you think that your snoring may be due to sleep apnoea, consider consulting with Dr Ironside at Ironside Advanced Dental, today. Together we can assess your snoring and determine if a simple MAS device may be all that you need.
All surgical procedures carry risk. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.