& Second Opinions
Obstructive sleep apnea narrows or collapses the airway during sleep, leading the person to stop breathing for short periods over the course of the night. This condition reduces the levels of oxygen in the body, disrupts the individual’s sleep cycles and can also cause loud snoring. If left untreated, it can cause you to experience constant tiredness and sleepiness during the day, along with other symptoms of sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is the most prevalent breathing disorder related to sleep and affects three to seven percent of the population. However, does it have a cure?
For the past 30 years, medical experts have used continuous positive airway pressure (or CPAP) masks to cure sleep apnea. This device works by producing a steady stream of air flow through a face mask worn during the night. The flow of air will keep the airway open, preventing pauses in one’s breathing patterns and getting one’s oxygen levels back to normal.
CPAP treatment is proven to reduce daytime fatigue and boost energy in as little as three weeks. Many patients feel much better once they begin treatment.
With that said, twenty to fifty percent of patients cannot tolerate this device due to the discomfort it brings. For example, patients with nasal congestion will experience too much pressure if they use CPAP. Thankfully, alternatives are available.
Other options include sleep apnea mouthguards (called mandibular advancement devices), splints and surgery. The oral appliances we offer position the mandible forward while you sleep. We prescribe them for people with mild to moderate symptoms of sleep apnea, along with individuals with more severe conditions who cannot tolerate CPAP.
These devices usually don’t reduce episodes of sleep apnea or increase oxygen levels as well as CPAP, but they certainly help alleviate symptoms and boost energy for patients with the condition. Studies have shown that the results for both forms of treatment are similar.
Eating healthy food and exercising are natural remedies for sleep apnea. Obese individuals with sleep apnea often no longer need CPAP and sometimes experience total cures if they lose weight. If you do moderate aerobic exercise for forty minutes four days a week and do strength training two days a week, you should see considerable improvement.
Other natural remedies for sleep apnea emphasize increasing antioxidant capacity, for this condition is tied to oxidative stress (which is when too many free radicals have built up), diminished antioxidant capacity (that is, the body’s ability to resist oxidative stress becomes reduced), and lower blood levels of certain antioxidants (like vitamin E and beta-carotene).
The oxidative irregularities caused by sleep apnea leads to endothelial dysfunction (where blood vessels don’t contract as they should), which results in cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis. A variety of antioxidant supplements are used successfully to treat sleep apnea.
Omega-3s, such as fish oil, also aid sleep apnea. This is because omega-3 protects cells from stress, and the oxidative stress this condition places on the body is believed to reduce one’s omega-3 levels. Omega-3 fish oil supplements (particularly ones with concentrated levels of DHA) can improve symptoms along with cardiovascular health.
Sleep apnea patients are known to have lower levels of vitamin D, and this is even more prevalent in those who have problems regulating blood sugar and insulin. Those with more serious symptoms of the sleep disorder and more issues with blood sugar regulation will see lower levels of vitamin D.
For more information, please contact our office at 817-678-7395.