Snoring. Fatigue. Long pauses in breathing. These are just a couple of symptoms and warning signs of sleep apnea. Similar to seeing smoke alerting you of a fire, daytime sleepiness or gasping for air during your sleep can alert you to sleep apnea and should be mentioned to your doctor. If left untreated it could lead to diabetes, heart failure or stroke. Possible treatments of sleep apnea include therapies, surgeries and even an implant that shocks you every time the airways in your lungs close. Each of these possible treatments does include a list of pros and cons.
Therapies for sleep apnea include CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) or BiPAP (Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure) machines designed to continuously deliver various pressure of air into the nose or mouth in order to keep the airway passages open for the free flow of air into your lungs. The pro to this treatment is not having to get surgery. If going under the knife doesn’t please you, then wearing a mask over your nose or mouth during slumber is your best bet. However, the con to this treatment is wearing the mask at night. Many PAP users feel the masks can be quite obtrusive and uncomfortable during slumber. If you’re a stomach sleeper then you would certainly need to adjust your sleeping habit in order to wear a PAP mask. Another con, of course, would have to be constantly replacing your PAP supplies every 3 to 6 months. Bacteria build-up and deterioration is common when using these machines on a daily basis. Make sure you have insurance that will cover durable medical equipment.
If wearing a mask on a nightly basis doesn’t necessarily tickle your fancy, you might want a more permanent treatment to your restless night’s sleep. The most commonly performed surgeries to combat sleep apnea include nasal surgery (correction of nasal problems such as a deviated septum), Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty – UPPP (surgically removing the soft tissue in the back of your throat and palate in order to increase the width of the airway at the opening of the throat) and Mandibular maxillar advancement surgery (constructive surgery to improve a birth defect in your face or throat that may contribute to sleep apnea). The pro to this treatment is that it is permanent. The con would be having to go under the knife which might scare a lot of OSA sufferers.
In some cases especially with only mild cases, weight loss or cutting cigarettes and alcohol out of your diet can improve your night’s slumber. Therapies and surgeries are suggested by your doctor only in moderate or severe cases. If either of these does not sound pleasing to you, you can always look into shock treatment like a Wisconsin man did earlier this year. Dan Gutzman, husband and father of two in Milwaukee, tried a CPAP and could not get used to it. He thought surgery was far too drastic. His doctor explained the shock treatment to him as a nerve stimulator that sends an electric shock wave to his lungs and tongue when his airway is blocked and snoring occurs. If you’d rather not sleep with probes in your mouth and lungs and think an electric shock is just scary, keep to a CPAP therapy treatment.