SUMMARY: For those suffering from sleep apnea, CPAP therapy usually ensures proper rest resulting in a healthier life. However even with one of these sophisticated machines, sleep apnea and snoring may not be completely eliminated. So what other sorts of changes should apnea patients make for a better night’s rest?
There are various types of CPAP machines and masks that can be explored for better results, and in addition, there are general health risk factors that can also be lowered. First, weight should be within a healthy range. While many people with sleep apnea are not obese, a large majority is overweight. The percentage of people who are obese and also have sleep apnea weighs in around 80%, causing weight loss to be one of the top recommendations given by doctors. Apneas are often reduced when the individual returns to a healthy weight.
Training oneself to sleep in new positions is also a good weapon against apnea. Back sleepers tend to have worse episodes, and snoring almost always coincides with back sleeping. Those with apnea can practice sleeping on their side or stomach, and visit a sleep center to have their oxygen levels monitored in all positions. While back sleeping may be the most comfortable option, it may not be ideal for healthy sleeping.
One common question doctors and sleep specialists are asked is whether there’s a surgical option to cure apnea. The answer is basically “no” – though there are some procedures that can be tried. One of these operations with the fewest risks is called maxilla-mandibular advancement. It involves repositioning the jaw with titanium plates – not an ideal procedure for anyone to undergo. Almost every surgery available is suggested to reduce instances of sleep apnea – not prevent them completely.
Another alternative treatment option is a mouth guard or oral appliance, made by several different manufacturers. While not nearly as successful as CPAP, it does work for some and is definitely less invasive and bulky. Only a physician can determine if such a device will work as apnea therapy.
For many, living a life with apnea means CPAP therapy for life. However, while it may take a while to get used to sleeping with the device, it does make a big difference for those who are diligent in their compliance.
Erica Ronchetti is a freelance interested in The CPAP Shop, a leading supplier of CPAP Machines and other devices used to treat sleep apnea.