Nasal pillows

It is estimated that nearly 18 million people in the U.S. have sleep apnea. Men are more frequently diagnosed than women, though there are a number of reasons a person may develop sleep apnea. Thankfully, there are a couple of remedies, some more easy to execute than others.

Sleep Apnea Causes.

So, who is at risk for developing sleep apnea? Men are more likely than women, but a woman who is overweight has an increased chance, as do older adults. Those people who have a smaller airway in their mouths, noses, or throats are also at risk for developing the condition.

Diagnosing Sleep Apnea.

Excessive sleepiness during the day, waking up frequently at night, and loud snoring –a family member will be sure to inform you– are symptoms of the condition. A doctor will ask about your history and your family’s history with these issues and also by keeping a sleep journal. A physical exam of the nasal passage and throat will also help with a diagnosis.

A sleep study will give a doctor the best information. You might be given the option to take an at-home sleep test for sleep apnea, that will monitor:

    -The air-flow through your nose/mouth
    -The oxygen level in your blood
    -If your chest struggles as your lungs take in air
    -Your heart rate

How to manage sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea may be relieved by simply sleeping on your left side, as this will allow the airway to clear. For the more severely effected more drastic measures must be taken. Severely affected people may even chose corrective surgery for their airway passage. Continuous positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP) is commonly used, where steady air pressure keeps the soft palette open as you breathe. A CPAP machine is very effective, but does come with a learning curve.

The pitfalls of a CPAP machine.

While a CPAP machine can relieve you of your sleep apnea, there are a few possible shortcomings. It is important to make sure the mask fits properly, to ensure your comfort and a proper seal for the right pressure. Some users notice they develop a dry mouth or dry nose from using their CPAP machine. This can be fixed by adding a humidifier option to the machine, or using special drops for that exact problem.

A sleep apnea diagnosis can be difficult. But there are treatments you can do to help, with minimal effect on your waking life.