It’s a common misconception that snoring and sleep apnea are one and the same, but the two conditions differ in a couple of important ways. First of all, people with sleep apnea snore, but not all snorers have sleep apnea. Secondly, sleep apnea is a much more serious condition, whereby the airways become completely obstructed during sleep, cutting off all airflow. In other words, those who suffer from sleep apnea actually stop breathing over and over throughout slumber, causing them to wake, often gasping and choking. And in extreme cases, this could end up being fatal. That said, the treatments for the two conditions can be similar.
For snorers, milder treatments can make a big difference. Propping your head up on extra pillows or using products like Breathe Right Strips could do the trick. But these tactics aren’t likely to help with sleep apnea, and they might not be enough for severe snoring, either. Still, they’re worth a try. In some cases, a cheap and easy solution will suffice. For more serious issues, however, there are a variety of other treatment options to consider.
First you should probably find out if you’re suffering from sleep apnea, which means visiting your primary healthcare provider in order to get a referral to a sleep clinic. There your vital signs will be monitored overnight in order to diagnose your condition and determine the severity of your sleep apnea. Either way, you will undergo a consultation with a specialist following the study in order to discuss your condition and your treatment options.
And the best treatment could depend on the source of your sleep interruption. For example, both snoring and sleep apnea can be a side effect of carrying extra weight. In some cases, simply getting down to a healthy weight can decrease or even eliminate your symptoms and virtually cure you of your condition. Both conditions could also be caused by excess tissue in the sinuses or oral cavity, or by enlarged tissue like the tongue or tonsils. This could be corrected through surgery, although there is no guarantee that surgery will cure the symptoms, which is why it is often used as a last resort after other treatment options have been exhausted.
The most common treatment prescribed, however, is the nightly use of a CPAP machine, which uses a mask attached to a pressurized air machine to provide continuous positive airway pressure. In other words, it forces your airways to remain open when they might otherwise collapse, allowing you to breathe freely. This treatment is usually the first line of defense for those suffering from sleep apnea since it is immediate and proven effective. It is less common for those who merely snore to use such machinery, however, since snoring tends to be more irritating than life threatening. However, it’s easy enough to order the machinery and replacement parts from an outlet like CPAPMan. And if your doctor recommends this device, your insurance may even cover the lion’s share of the cost.