People suffering from sleep apnea really should seek treatment. Otherwise, they have an increased risk for medical conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes. However, the most commonly recommended form of treatment is the continuous positive air pressure machine, or CPAP, and up to 50 percent of people don't adhere to this treatment recommendation for various reasons. There are alternative sleep apnea treatment options available.
For those with severe sleep apnea, meaning that their sleep is interrupted 30 or more times per hour, CPAP machines really are the most likely sleep apnea treatment to be able to make a difference in their symptoms. There are newer versions of the machines that have smaller masks, make less noise, make it easier to breathe out against the pressure of the machine and automatically adjust the pressure of the air as your needs change, such as when you change positions during sleep. These may be more comfortable, so those who've tried CPAP machines in the past may want to give one of the newer versions a try.
Dental appliances come in two versions — those meant to reposition the lower jaw forward so the airway is less likely to become blocked during sleep and those that hold the tongue forward. The first type of device is called a mandibular adjustment device, which is the type that most people will be prescribed by a dentist or orthodontist. It fits sort of like a sports mouthguard. These devices can be a bit more tolerable than the masks of the CPAP machine and are a lot less complicated. It's easier to take a dental appliance along on vacation than a CPAP machine, for example. However, some people get sore jaws or teeth, find that the device causes them to salivate excessively, notice that it gives them a dry mouth, or experience damage to their bite or dental restorations.
Other Potentially Beneficial Steps
Some lifestyle changes can help to make sleep apnea less severe. These include not smoking, sleeping on your side instead of your back, avoiding alcohol, and losing weight if overweight. Being overweight is one of the main causes of sleep apnea, and sometimes simply losing the extra weight will totally cure the condition so no other treatment is necessary. Smoking causes swelling in the airway, making snoring worse, and alcohol tends to relax the breathing muscles, which makes them more likely to collapse and interfere with breathing.