Sleep disorders can take a toll on your overall health. In addition to causing chronic fatigue, sleep apnea can increase your chances of developing high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease, among other things. At our Orland Park, IL, practice, Dr. Kenneth W. Coffey offers sleep apnea treatment options that can alleviate symptoms and improve your quality of life. Your recommended treatment will primarily depend on the severity of your condition.
Understanding Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Although there are different types of the disorder, obstructive sleep apnea is the most common. This condition is caused by decreased airflow due to a blocked airway. In some cases, the airway becomes obstructed due to weight gain. For others, enlarged tonsils are the primary culprit. In any case, sleep apnea is the result of collapsed tissues partially or fully blocking the windpipe.
For mild cases of sleep apnea, lifestyle changes may make a significant difference. For example, many patients find their symptoms are eradicated after weight loss. Others simply try sleeping on their side rather than their back. If you suffer from sleep apnea, it is a good idea to eliminate alcohol and sleeping pills, as these substances can cause the muscles around the airway to become too relaxed.
Custom Oral Appliances
Several of our patients have found relief from their symptoms through a custom oral appliance. Suitable for mild to moderate cases of sleep apnea, custom appliances are designed to fit over the teeth and keep your lower jaw in a slightly more forward position. This can keep the tissues in the back of the throat away from the airway, resulting in improved breathing.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
One of the most common and beneficial treatments for sleep apnea is a CPAP device. This machine delivers constant and gentle pressure, which is used to keep the airway open during sleep. This is achieved by wearing a small mask over the mouth or nose. While some patients need a few days to adjust to the device, it is one of the most effective treatments for moderate to severe sleep apnea.
In many cases, CPAP is combined with the use of an oral appliance. In fact, research studies have shown that using both methods together is more effective than using CPAP alone, especially for patients who cannot tolerate the pressure of the CPAP mask. Wearing an oral appliance positions the jaw in a way that makes treatment much more comfortable.
If non-surgical treatment options have been exhausted, surgical intervention may be necessary. Some of the most common surgical procedures performed to alleviate the symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Correction of nasal abnormalities, such as a severely deviated septum
- The removal or reduction of soft tissues near the airway
- Corrective jaw surgery, to improve the positioning of the jaws
In most cases, sleep apnea can be addressed without the need for surgery. At our practice, we will work with you to determine the specific cause of your sleep disorder, and help you find a method that will work for your situation.
Learn More about Sleep Apnea Treatment Options
Whether your sleep apnea is mild, moderate, or severe, it can have a significant negative impact on your quality of life. To find out more about your treatment options, contact our practice online anytime.