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Sleep apnea is a common disorder that occurs when breathing is interrupted or becomes shallow due to a narrowing or partial blockage of the... Everything About Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a common disorder that occurs when breathing is interrupted or becomes shallow due to a narrowing or partial blockage of the respiratory airways. These pauses of sorts can last from seconds to minutes and often occur 30 or more times per hour. After that, breathing then returns to normal, sometimes with snoring and/or choking sounds. The appearance of apneas is due to the existence of a total or almost total collapse -we speak then of hypopneas- inside the pharynx. Keep in mind that apnea implies a transitory cessation of breathing and should not be confused with cardiorespiratory arrest, since during apneas the heart continues to beat. [1] The people most at risk for this are those who are overweight and obese. However, it is also common in patients with respiratory diseases, tonsillitis and smokers.

So then, now that we’ve got the definition of what sleep apnea is out of the way, let us talk about how we can combat it. There are many ways in which we can treat sleep apnea, some more efficient and with more scientific backing than others, but with their own caveats. Regardless, most -if not all- of these treatments can and will help the average individual deal with sleep apnea. Now then, let’s talk about them!

Taking care of your body

When it comes to measures to be taken in order to deal with sleep apnea, in all cases general prevention measures should be followed -similar to those given in order to prevent snoring- but given the greater severity of the apnea, it is advisable to carry them out with greater effort. Some of the more prominent ones are:

  • Losing some weight. To make weight loss more effective it is usually recommended that you go to a nutritionist or dietitian, as these professionals will be more than capable of truly helping you out in your quest to lose weight with their nutritional advice that’s going to be personally tailored to your specific body type. [2]
  • Exercising a bit in the evening. On the topic of losing weight, try going out for a walk or a jog in the evenings. It doesn’t have to be every single day (although the more the better of course) but what it is important to keep in mind is constancy and discipline. Doing cardio like this in a constant matter is sure to help alleviate the symptoms of sleep apnea you’re currently having, plus it helps with a bunch of other illnesses as well making you healthier overall, not to mention you’ll look better than ever if you follow through with this all the way.
  • Avoiding drinking too much alcohol. It is recommend by field professionals and doctors that if you are dealing with sleep apnea you should not drink alcohol, especially not at night/ before you go to sleep even if it does help you go to bed quicker; if you can’t quit drinking alcohol entirely, then simply not drinking that much and not drinking at all during nighttime is a close second and goes a long way in helping you deal with sleep apnea.
  • Avoiding smoking too much tobacco. Same story as drinking alcohol. Smoking is already pretty bad as it is for you and your body so cutting down on it does wonders, as hard as it may be initially. Smoking too much will cause inflammation in your airway and thus worsen your apnea, so reducing the amount of tobacco you smoke -or of course not smoking to begin with- helps immensely.
  • Not sleeping on your back. Sleeping on your back causes your tongue and soft tissues to block your respiratory airway which can cause or worsen sleep apnea. Try a different sleeping position if you sleep on your back as it will help alleviate this condition, even if at the beginning it might seem uncomfortable. [3]

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)

If you suffer from moderate to severe sleep apnea, you may benefit from using a machine that delivers air pressure through a mask while you sleep. CPAP makes it so that the air pressure is a little higher than the surrounding air making it so that it’s enough to keep your upper airway opened, preventing snoring and sleep apnea.

Although CPAP is the most common and reliable method of treating sleep apnea, some people find it uncomfortable or annoying. Some people stop using it, but with practice, most people learn to adjust the tension of the mask straps for a comfortable and secure fit. You may need to try more than one type of mask to find one that is comfortable. Don’t stop using the CPAP machine if you have problems, and check with your doctor to see what changes you can make to increase your comfort. On that note, contact your doctor if you still snore or if you snore again despite treatment. If your weight changes, the pressure setting on the CPAP machine may need to be adjusted.

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Natural remedies

These are not recognized by the broad medical community, but have been proven to help some people with sleep apnea. Note that the following remedies are intended to help ease the body for it to enjoy a good night’s sleep. They’re not a cure for the disease but something on top of everything else that can help in dealing with sleep apnea, so consult with your doctor beforehand if you wish to try them.

  • Lavender essential oil. Move your face closer to the container, being careful not to burn yourself, and inhale the vapors. Then, cover your head with a towel to take advantage of all the steam. Do this every night before you go to bed.
  • Black pepper and honey. Boil a cup of water, then add the black pepper, wait about ten minutes and then add about half a spoon of honey. Drink after dinner/ about three hours before sleeping.
  • Fennel, valerian and mint. Mix about half a cup of lukewarm water with five drops of these three ingredients. Gargle the solution for a couple of minutes. Then brush your teeth as usual before going to bed.