Sleep apnea is a grave sleep disorder, in which breathing stops intermittently for brief periods of time, during sleep. The condition is classified into three types - obstructive, central, and complex. Obstructive type is caused by some physical blockage of airflow to the lungs, like relaxed throat muscles.
Central sleep apnea is the result of failure on the part of the brain to send required signals to control breathing. Complex sleep apnea is considered a combination of both central and obstructive types. According to some studies, almost 85% of the reported cases account for obstructive sleep apnea, followed by complex and central sleep apnea.
Moderate to severe cases of sleep apnea require treatment to avoid complications, like congestive heart failure. The most common treatment method is to use a device called CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure). A CPAP device keeps the air passage open with a flow of pressurized air to the airways of the affected person.
BiPAP (Bi-level Positive Airway Pressure) is a device used for the treatment of sleep apnea. Unlike CPAP, which takes care of inhalation only; a BiPAP controls both inhalation and exhalation, and adjusts the air pressure automatically.
Oral appliance therapy, is another option mainly used in people with mild to moderate sleep apnea. This involves an oral appliance, which is to be used to ensure an unobstructed airflow.
Some people suffering from sleep apnea may not show any improvement, even after using these devices. In such cases, surgery is recommended, in order to open up the airway. Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, maxillomandibular advancement, and tracheostomy are commonly suggested. In other words, conventional treatment involves use of these devices or surgeries.
Though some types of alternative treatments for sleep apnea are found to be beneficial to control the condition, there is no scientific evidence to prove the efficacy of these methods. They can be used in conjunction with conventional treatment methods. Alternative treatment options are ideal for those with mild sleep apnea. Usually, in such cases, doctors do not prescribe any treatment other than some lifestyle changes.
Homeopathic medicines are also good, if taken in conjunction with the conventional treatment. Homeopathy practitioners administer medicines according to the personality type of the patient; and in case of sleep apnea, they recommend avoidance of sugar and allergic foods. Most commonly used medicines are lachesis and homeopathic opium.
Acupuncture treatments aim to correct the imbalance which leads to sleep apnea. It is claimed that undergoing several acupuncture sessions can bring back the patient to a normal sleeping pattern. While undergoing the treatment, the patients should refrain from consumption of caffeine. A change in lifestyle and diet is also recommended.
Strengthening the muscles of the airways can also help treat sleep apnea. Loosening of throat muscles is a reason for the blockage of the airway, which results in sleep apnea. These muscles should be made stronger to avoid sleep apnea. This can be achieved through regular singing sessions or playing a wind instrument called 'didgeridoo'.
It is also advisable to avoid smoking, consumption of alcohol, and use of sedatives.
If you experience any symptom of sleep apnea, consult your health care immediately. You may try the alternative treatment options, along with the conventional treatment. However, alternative treatments for sleep apnea should be tried only with the consent of your doctor.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.