How Sleep Apnea Treatment Works

Do you have sudden breathing lapses, snore loudly, or feel tired even after a full night’s sleep? You might have sleep apnea. There are three types of sleep apnea, namely:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea. When you have this condition, you will experience breathing problems when your throats muscles relax.
  • Central sleep apnea. Breathing problems occur when your brain does not send proper signals to muscles that control breathing.
  • Complex sleep apnea syndrome. The condition is a result of having both obstructive and central sleep apneas.

In case you have the condition, you can contact your doctor or dentist for treatment.

Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

The signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apnea might overlap, making it hard for you to determine which condition you have. However, the following are the general symptoms of sleep apnea:

  • Loud snoring while sleeping
  • Episodes of stopped breathing that can be reported by another person
  • Gasping for air while sleeping
  • Dry mouth when you wake up
  • Headaches in the morning
  • Insomnia
  • Extensive sleepiness during the day
  • Concentration difficulties during the day
  • Irritability

When Should I See a Specialist?

Loud snoring while sleeping is one of the signs of advanced sleep apnea. However, not everyone that snores has the condition. Therefore, when you have the above symptoms, you should visit your dentist or doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.


Your specialist will diagnose sleep apnea based on your signs and symptoms as well as your sleep history that the dentist or physician will ask you to explain. Alternatively, the specialist can ask somebody you share a household about your sleeping behavior and patterns.

The specialist can also run tests to determine if you have sleep apnea. Some of the tests include:

  • Nocturnal polysomnography. During this test, your specialist will hook you up to a device that monitors your heart rate, lung, and brain activity. The dentist or doctor will also monitor your breathing patterns, arm, and leg movements, as well as blood oxygen levels while you are sleeping.
  • Home-based sleep tests. Your specialist can give you a portable test kit that monitors your heart rate, blood oxygen levels, airflow, and breathing patterns. If the results are abnormal, your specialist can recommend treatment right away without conducting further tests.

Treatment Options

Your dentist or doctor can treat sleep apnea or refer you to a sleep apnea specialist. Some of the sleep apnea treatment options that your specialist can recommend include:

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Therapy

If you have moderate to severe sleep apnea, this treatment option can be beneficial to you. Your specialist gives you a machine that delivers air pressure to your lungs. The air pressure that the machine delivers is greater than the one in the surrounding, thus keeping your airway open and prevent apneas as well as snoring.

The machine that utilizes a mask to pass the air pressure can be uncomfortable sometimes. However, you will get used to it with time. Also, the specialist can make adjustments to make you feel more comfortable while wearing it.

Oral Appliances

At Dr. Susan J. Curley DDS’s dental office, our dentist can recommend oral appliances. The oral appliances will help in keeping your throat open during sleep. Oral devices are easy to use and work by bringing your jaw forward, to prevent the apneas and snoring.

The dentist will have you try different oral appliances to find the one that is fit for you. The dentist will then schedule regular appointments to ensure the device fits and monitor your progress.

Although it is rare, your specialist can recommend surgery to correct chronic sleep apnea.

Lifestyle and Home Remedies for Sleep Apnea

Sometimes lifestyle changes can be the remedy to apneas, especially central sleep apnea. Below are some of the home remedies for sleep apnea disorder:

  • Loss of excess weight to relieve throat constriction
  • Routine exercises
  • Avoid consuming alcohol or using medications such as tranquilizers and sleeping pills
  • Sleep on your side or abdomen and avoid sleeping on your back to avoid blocking your airway with your tongue
  • Avoid smoking

Gaining weight during treatment can affect the effectiveness of your treatment. Therefore, you should ensure you eat a proper diet and exercise to prevent weight gain.

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