Surprising Ways to Manage Sleep Apnea

Feb 02, 2024
Surprising Ways to Manage Sleep Apnea
CPAP machines play a crucial role in treating sleep apnea. However, they’re only the beginning if you want to manage this condition effectively. Do you have sleep apnea? These additional strategies can help ease your symptoms.

In a country where as many as 30% of adults have sleep apnea, people know someone with the condition — or live with it themselves. As a result, you’ve probably heard of a device known as a CPAP machine. 

CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure, and these devices are a highly effective and widely used method for managing a potentially life-threatening sleep disorder. However, our experienced team knows it’s not the only option.

At Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine in Algonquin, Illinois, our experienced providers specialize in sleep medicine and pulmonary care.

As the only fully independent pulmonary and sleep medicine practice in Chicago’s far northwest suburbs, we provide personalized solutions to improve your overall health and well-being.

If you have sleep apnea, here are some surprising ways our team can help.

1. Identifying the cause of your condition

The most common form of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea, is caused by soft tissue in the back of the throat repeatedly blocking the airway while you sleep. 

However, sleep disorders can develop for a variety of reasons, including breathing issues, brain and nervous system conditions, and mental health disorders.

As sleep medicine specialists, we have state-of-the-art methods to analyze your sleep to look for underlying conditions that could cause your symptoms. 

Common issues that can lead to sleep apnea include:

  • Age
  • Obesity 
  • Family history and genetics
  • Endocrine disorders or hormone imbalances
  • Tobacco, alcohol, or opioid use
  • Certain health conditions, like heart or kidney failure, stroke, or premature birth

Once we diagnose the severity of your condition and what’s behind it, we can create a targeted strategy to treat your symptoms.

2. Outlining the right lifestyle changes

If you have sleep apnea, it’s crucial to get treatment. In many cases, the first line of defense involves a CPAP machine to ensure you get the oxygen you need for optimal health. However, that’s just the start.

Our team takes a comprehensive approach to sleep disorders, including lifestyle changes proven to ease sleep apnea symptoms.

Lifestyle changes that improve sleep apnea include:

  • Losing weight to reduce airway constriction
  • Exercising regularly to improve your overall health
  • Limiting alcohol and caffeine, especially close to bedtime
  • Quitting smoking

Certain prescription and over-the-counter medications can also lead to sleep issues. Our team can look for potential problems and offer suggestions on a case-by-case basis.

3. Helping you rethink how you sleep

We know what you’re thinking — I’m already having problems sleeping! Working with our skilled sleep medicine specialists can help you get quality z’s again. But that also means completely rethinking your approach to this vital part of your day.

First, create a sleep schedule. Then, stick to it, even on the weekends. Consistency is key to getting enough sleep, and it can help you adjust to a CPAP machine if you need one.

On top of a consistent sleep schedule, look closely at how you sleep. Are you often on your back? It’s time to roll over and start counting sheep on your side or stomach. 

When you sleep on your back, gravity naturally works against you, causing the soft tissue at the back of your throat to block your airway.

Finally, do you struggle with congestion? Take steps to keep your nasal passages open when you sleep so you’re not forced to breathe through your mouth. One approach involves using a saline nasal spray before bed. We can offer personalized guidance based on your situation.

4. Recommending the best medical treatments

Did you know CPAP machines aren’t the only medical treatment for obstructive sleep apnea? Our team also partners with the ENT Care Center in Barrington to offer the revolutionary Inspire® Upper Airway Stimulation therapy system.

Unlike a traditional CPAP machine, the tiny, FDA-approved Inspire device gets implanted near your collarbone. Then, you simply use a remote control to turn it on before going to sleep. 

Once activated, Inspire delivers mild stimulation to the nerve that controls movement in the tongue and airway muscles. In response, the tissue moves out of the airway so you can breathe without interruption.

Do you have sleep apnea? Our team can create a personalized management strategy to help. Call or click today to schedule a consultation with our experts at Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine.