When you’re considering different solutions for sleep apnea – be it an oral appliance, CPAP therapy, or a combination of the two – there might be a part of you that’s asking: “What if I just wait for my disorder to go away on its own?” As tempting as it might be to try and save money by letting your sleep apnea take care of itself, it’s important to understand what causes the condition and how that can affect its potential to go away naturally. Read below to learn more about what contributes to sleep apnea and how you might take control of some of those risk factors.
What Causes Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea – by far the most common cause of sleep apnea – is caused by a collapse of the airway during sleep. This is often caused by anatomical factors such as a deviated nasal symptom or enlarged turbinates in the nose. It may also be a result of floppy soft tissues in the mouth or throat falling back and blocking the airway. A narrow airway can also increase the risk of sleep apnea, especially if you’ve gained weight. Other common causes include sleeping on your back (thus causing the tongue to fall directly back onto the airway) and drinking alcohol right before bed (making the muscles in the throat more likely to relax and collapse).
Will Sleep Apnea Go Away?
Most sleep apnea is connected to anatomy, which is something that doesn’t usually significantly change once you’ve reached adulthood. Children might be able to have their sleep apnea permanently treated after their tonsils or adenoids have been removed, but after growth has ended, your options are generally to use different forms of treatment to reduce the symptoms of sleep apnea or to undergo advanced surgical procedures (which tend to vary in how effective they are). With all that said, though, you can often see a significant improvement in sleep apnea by addressing key risk factors.
How Can You Change the Risk Factors of Sleep Apnea?
- Lose excess weight. Fatty tissue along the airway greatly increases the chance of a soft tissue collapse, so weight loss can make a significant difference, especially if you’re considered obese.
- Changing sleeping position. Try sleeping on your side instead of your back. That way if the tongue relaxes, it doesn’t fall back directly onto the throat.
- Strengthen the muscles along the airway. Circular breathing techniques and tongue strengthening exercises can reduce the risk of muscle collapse.
- Seek treatment. Oral appliances and other solutions make it much easier for people with sleep apnea to get a good night’s rest.
If you have any questions about sleep apnea, you can talk to a sleep expert. It might also be a good idea to take a sleep quiz to confirm that you’re truly at risk for the disorder. If your breathing is being interrupted at night, then it’s up to you to take control of the situation and address the issue head on.
About the Author
Dr. Pamela West has been helping patients at her current location for over 20 years and counting. Her Las Vegas sleep center, iSleep Solutions, offers oral appliances and other treatments that can help you overcome chronic sleep apnea. Dr. West herself is a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and an expert in identifying potential symptoms of a sleep disorder. To schedule an appointment and learn more about sleep apnea treatment, visit her website or call (702) 602-2000.