Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome

According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, sleep apnea is an involuntary cessation of breathing that occurs while the patient is asleep. There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central, and mixed. Of the three, obstructive sleep apnea, often called OSA for short, is the most common.

Despite the difference in the root cause of each type of sleep apnea, in all three, people with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times during the night and often for a minute or longer. In most cases the sleeper is unaware of these breath stoppages because they don’t trigger a full awakening.

Symptoms of sleep apnea often include:

  • excessive daytime sleepiness
  • headaches
  • problems with memory and concentration
  • heartburn
  • swelling of the legsslim belly
  • getting up during the night to urinate
  • sweating and chest pain while sleeping
  • episodes of not breathing while sleeping
  • snoring
  • restless sleep
  • nighttime choking or gasping spells

Untreated sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure, heart attack, congestive heart failure, cardiac arrhythmia, stroke or depression.

Conventional Treatments

There are several treatment options depending on the person’s health and the severity of the condition. Some conventional treatment options include:

  • wearing a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine while sleeping
  • wearing specially-made oral devices at night
  • nasal disks worn at night to keep the airways open
  • surgery

Alternative Treatments

Home treatments for sleep apnea can help to avoid the need for the standard treatment options. Lifestyle changes and changing your sleep habits can make a difference.

Lifestyle Changes

  • Lose weight-sleep apnea is more likely to occur in people who are overweight or obese (60% to 70% of people with sleep apnea are obese)
  • Limit the use of alcohol and medicine-drinking excessively and using sedatives can make symptoms worse
  • Get plenty of sleep-apnea episodes may occur more frequently when you have not had enough sleep
  • Quit smoking-nicotine in tobacco relaxes the muscles that keep the airway open causing the airway to narrow or collapse during the night
  • Treat breathing problems-treat stuffy nose or asthma issues before going to sleep

Sleep Habit Changes

  • Sleep on your side-this may even help eliminate mild sleep apnea
  • Raise the head of the bed 4-6 inches
  • If you have a CPAP machine, use it every night

ScienceDaily.com reports on a study in the European Respiratory Journal showing the Mediterranean diet and exercise can help improve Quacamole tuna salad 3some of the symptoms of sleep apnea. The results showed that people following the Mediterranean diet, which consists of eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts, eating more fish and less red meat, had a reduced number of disturbances during the REM stage of sleep, which usually accounts for approximately 25% of total sleep during the night. The findings also revealed that people following the Mediterranean diet also showed a greater adherence to the calorie restricted diet, an increase in physical activity and a greater decrease in abdominal fat.

According to a study called “Effects of Oropharyngeal Exercises on Patients with Moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome” in the American Thoracic Society Journal, oropharyngeal exercises significantly reduce obstructive sleep apnea syndrome severity and symptoms and represent a promising treatment for moderate obstructive sleep apnea symptom. Check out sleepapneaguide.com for a list of tongue and mouth exercises that may help improve obstructive sleep apnea syndrome.

Resources

American Sleep Apnea Association: Sleep Apnea

WebMD: Sleep Apnea

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: Sleep Apnea

National Sleep Foundation: Sleep Apnea and Sleep

Science Daily: Mediterranean Diet and Exercise Can Reduce Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Natural Therapy Stages: Low Energy Diet May Help With Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea Guide: Oropharyngeal Exercises

American Thoracic Society Journal: Effects of Oropharyngeal Exercises on Patients with Moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome

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