In reality there are no cures for sleep apnea as such but there are a number of treatments which can help overcome the symptoms for sleep apnea.
There are different severity levels for sleep apnea sufferers and it might only be your partner who is all too aware of your problem. Sleep apnea is where the sufferer stops breathing for 10 seconds or more frequently through the night's sleep. The consequent lack of oxygen instructs the part of the brain to force a breath which causes the sufferer to wake up momentarily to gasp for air.
This can have long-term effects including heart problems and strokes as well as reduced intellectual capacity. The continual disturbance to sleep also has the same effect as with anyone who does not get the right quality and quantity of sleep.
For moderate to multiple cases the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device is considered the gold standard of treatments. It is a device worn over the airways, either the mouth and nose or just the nose and helps keep the airway clear during sleep and forces an take of breath. It works in that the wearer gets uninterrupted good quality sleep as long as it is used correctly and it is not to be too invasive or uncomfortable. A recent study has revealed that 50% of users found the CPAP device too uncomfortable or put off by the side effects and were not using it to its full potential.
Some of the risks and side effects include nightmares and excessive dreaming in the early stages of use, dry nose and sore throat, nasal congestion and sneezing, insomnia, sore eyes and skin on the face and abdominal bloating.
A BiPAP device is similar to the CPAP machine. It keeps the airways open but helps with inhalation and exhalation during the night. The pressure is set higher for breathing in lower for breathing out.
For mild to moderate cases of sleep apnea and if the CPAP alternative looks too invasive or claustrophobic a mouth device is a good option although it can have its own level of discomfort.
The most common device is called a mandibular enhancement (MAD) device which is worn like a sports mouth guard snapping over the dental arches with metal hinges that ease the lower jaw forward. It can be fitted by an orthodontist or your specialist dentist.The mandibular enhancement device is more suited for those that have an over bite in the facial skeletal make-up.
Another oral device is the tongue retaining device which acts as a splint holding the tongue down and there before keeping the airway passage open.
If fitted with a dental device you should have periodic checks to make sure the device is still working effectively and if you experience pain or changes in your bite the specialist may be able to make suitable modifications.
Surgery . Although sleep apnea can be a serious and debilitating condition the surgical option is currently thought to be a last resort and one to be considered only if all other options have failed and the condition is particularly severe. Surgery options include removing the tonsils and adenoids, widening the jaw and other facial reconstruction. The classic procedure is uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) where the surgeon removes soft tissue from the back of the throat.
These treatments may all sound a bit excessive when the simple cures for sleep apnea could be losing some weight, reducing alcohol take or sleeping on your side. Certainly weight loss and reduced alcohol are going to have all sorts of other benefits as well as a good night's sleep.