Can You Fix Sleep Apnea Without Surgery?

Can You Fix Sleep Apnea Without Surgery?

Aug 01, 2023

Sleep apnea is a common sleep-breathing disorder characterized by breathing disruptions during sleep. It’s mainly caused by airway obstruction, leading to breathing pauses or shallow breathing. These pauses last for a few seconds and can occur multiple times every hour throughout the night.

Since sleep apnea reduces oxygen flow in the body, chronic or long-term sleep apnea can lead to serious health issues like stroke, daytime fatigue, heart disease, high blood pressure, and accidents. That said, it’s essential to seek prompt treatment if you suspect you or your loved ones have sleep apnea.

When seeking sleep apnea treatment in Wellesley, MA, many often wonder whether sleep apnea can be fixed without surgical intervention. The good news is yes. Several non-surgical treatment approaches can effectively manage and improve sleep apnea. Let’s explore these treatment options and how they can provide relief for sleep apnea.

Non-surgical Sleep Apnea Treatment Options

Mild to moderate sleep apnea is often treated or managed with non-surgical treatments like:

  • 1. Lifestyle changes

Lifestyle modifications can greatly improve sleep apnea symptoms. Some of the lifestyle changes your dentist can recommend include:

  • Weight loss. Being overweight or obese, especially around the neck or throat, can narrow your airway, leading to airway blockage during sleep. Losing a significant amount of weight around the neck can improve airflow during sleep, relieving sleep apnea.
  • Regular exercises. Regular physical activity promotes weight management, relieves stress, and improves your cardiovascular health and breathing during sleep. Aim for about 30 minutes of exercise most of the week.
  • Changing sleep position. Certain sleep positions can improve or exacerbate sleep apnea. For instance, sleeping on the back allows the tongue and soft tissue in the throat to collapse easily during sleep, blocking the airway. However, sleeping on the side and elevating your head with a pillow can help keep your airway open, preventing sleep apnea.
  • Avoiding drugs and alcohol. Taking alcohol and sedative drugs, particularly before bed, can cause the throat muscles to relax excessively, leading to airway obstruction and sleep apnea.
  • Quitting tobacco. Smoking increases your risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea. Quitting tobacco use can improve your sleep apnea and overall well-being.
  • 2. Oral appliance

Oral appliances are dental devices like mouthguards that manage or prevent sleep apnea. For instance, a sleep apnea guard can help position your jaw forward, preventing movements that cause airway obstruction. Similarly, the dentist can recommend a tongue-positioning retainer to hold your tongue forward during sleep, preventing airway obstruction. This helps prevent snoring and sleep apnea. When considering an oral appliance for sleep apnea, get a custom-made appliance from your dentist for maximum protection and effectiveness.

  • 3. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy

CPAP therapy is often recommended for moderate to severe sleep apnea. It involves wearing a mask over your mouth and/or nose while sleeping. The CPAP machine gently and continually delivers pressurized air through a tube into the mask. This pressured air keeps your tongue and other soft muscles in position, keeping the airway open throughout the night. This prevents sleep apnea and improves your overall sleep quality.

  • 4. Bi-levelpositive airway pressure (BiPAP)

If you can’t tolerate CPAP therapy, the dentist can recommend BiPAP therapy. While it works similarly to a CPAP machine, the bi-PAP machine delivers air at a higher pressure when breathing in and a lower pressure when exhaling, helping keep your airway open throughout the night.

  • 5. Nerve stimulators

A nerve stimulator can help hold your tongue forward, preventing airway obstruction that causes obstructive sleep apnea. The nerve stimulator is attached to the hypoglossal nerve (the nerve that controls your tongue’s movements) and pushes it slightly forward when breathing. This prevents your tongue from relaxing and falling backward during sleep, causing sleep apnea.

  • 6. Nasal dilators, strips, and sprays

If you experience nasal congestion or obstruction, nasal strips, dilators, and sprays can improve your airway, preventing or relieving sleep apnea. Nasal dilators are fixed into the nostrils to keep the nasal passage open, while nasal strips are placed outside the nose to enhance airflow.

  • 7. Treatment of the underlying condition

Medical conditions like bruxism, high blood pressure, and diabetes can increase your risk of obstructive sleep apnea. Treating these conditions can improve central sleep apnea. If you’re taking medications that cause sleep apnea, speak with your doctor for medication changes.

Learn More about Sleep Apnea Treatment

Would you like to learn more about sleep apnea treatments and surgery in Wellesley, MA? Contact Wellesley Dental Arts to book your consultation today.

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