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Sleep Apnea Treatment – What Options Are Available?

Sleep Apnoea Treatment - Man Wearing a CPAP Mask

Much more than simply being disruptive, snoring can be hazardous to your health. Habitual snoring carries various health consequences, but it can also be symptomatic of a much bigger medical problem. Learn more about sleep apnea and the available sleep apnea treatment options below.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea (or apnoea) is a serious medical condition of which snoring is a symptom. It impacts many adult New Zealanders, and it is particularly common in Maori and Pacific Islander people. The increased risks of cardiovascular disease and mortality and motor vehicle accidents in people with sleep apnea are of significant concern. 

Obstructive sleep apnea affects 4% of men and 2% of women in NZ. The incidence doubles for Maori adults. Additionally, Maoris and Pacific Islanders tend to experience more severe forms of the condition and increased co-morbidities, and one cause of this is their higher relative rate of obesity (which has a genetic basis). Obesity is, in fact, the biggest risk factor for sleep apnea, alongside smoking and alcohol consumption.

What happens in sleep apnea? The condition is characterized by repeated pauses in breathing during sleep, due to partial or complete collapse or blockage of the airway. These pauses may last from a few seconds to a few minutes and can occur hundreds of times a night. This causes blood oxygen levels to drop. The sleeper briefly rouses for a second or two so that breathing can recommence and the person will gasp, choke, or snort.

The impacts of these disruptions to breathing (and subsequently, sleep) include:

  • Oxygen deprivation 
  • Compromised sleep quality
  • Headache on waking
  • Daytime fatigue, moodiness, loss of concentration, and poor cognitive and physical performance
  • Higher risk of road and workplace accidents
  • Poor decision-making ability
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Higher risks of obesity, diabetes, stroke, heart attack, and even cancer

Snoring Versus Sleep Apnea

Snoring is a very common concern. It occurs directly as a result of narrowed airways, as the soft tissues in the neck relax. The tissues of the throat vibrate during breathing, and the main causes of basic snoring include:

  • Having oversized or swollen tonsils, adenoids, or uvula
  • Having a deviated nasal septum
  • Nasal congestion, allergies, or sinus issues
  • Being overweight (especially if you carry neck fat)
  • Smoking 
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Back sleeping position

While snoring can create an array of issues such as sleepiness, moodiness, depression and anxiety, headaches, stress, and even major health conditions, sleep apnea is much less common and much more dangerous both in the short and longer-term. The increased risk of death in a person with obstructive sleep apnoea is equivalent to an age increase of more than fifteen years or an increase of almost 30mmHg of average blood pressure. (Source: BPAC)

This is why effective sleep apnea treatment is crucial.

Sleep Apnea Treatment and Diagnosis

Diagnosis of sleep apnea requires that you see your doctor. Many people do not even realise they have the condition, but habitual snorers, people who don’t sleep well, people who are overweight, or who feel tired on waking or during the day should be checked.

Diagnostic tools may include:

  1. Keeping a sleep diary of sleeping, waking, napping, and daytime sleepiness.
  2. Having household or family members record your snoring habits.
  3. A physical examination should check your nose, mouth, and throat, especially your tonsils and uvula. Your weight, neck circumference, and BMI should also be recorded.
  4. Professional sleep studies may be undertaken in a sleep lab or sleep centre. You may, alternatively, use a home-based monitor.

Sleep apnea treatment depends on a variety of physical factors and the severity of your condition. Some people may find that losing weight, quitting smoking, and minimising alcohol consumption is enough to solve the problem adequately. 

Most people, however, require more targeted obstructive sleep apnea treatment options. This usually involves using a CPAP machine.

CPAP or continuous positive airway pressure uses a face or nasal mask attached to a small pump. This is worn during sleep. It uses air from the room, gently pressurizes it, and delivers it into the nose or mouth to help hold the tissues of the throat open. 

Other approaches may include laser treatment or surgery to remove swollen tonsils and adenoids or an enlarged uvula, or to repair a deviated nasal septum which causes sinus issues and breathing difficulty. Losing weight is also very important.

Some people who have mild sleep apnea find that using a mandibular adjustment device like ApneaRx can help open the airways to alleviate snoring and minimize the effects of sleep apnea. It is not a cure or a treatment on its own, but it may be helpful if used alongside other recommended medical treatment approaches.

Sleep apnea requires a medical diagnosis and specialist medical treatment.

ApneaRx – Effective Sleep Apnea Treatment in NZ?

The ApneaRx device adjusts the position of the lower jaw, opening the airway enough to deal with the problem, and is regarded as a mild sleep apnea treatment.

It is even effective in more severe cases, as a moderate sleep apnea treatment. So, if you are looking for obstructive sleep apnea treatment options, this one can be taken seriously. The treatment for sleep apnea NZ has needed all along is now a reality and it’s a relief for all who suffer from this condition, not to mention the sleeping partners and those in nearby rooms with thin walls who may be woken by the noise of snoring, only to hear the worrying failure to breathe that causes the sufferer to be jolted out of the happy sleeping state that is so important to our general health and feeling of wellbeing.

If you experience regular snoring, making small, significant changes to your everyday life may minimise your risks.

ApneaRX is a patented, medically proven solution to help stop snoring. A mandibular adjustment anti-snoring device, it gently and comfortably repositions the lower jaw slightly forward. This helps open the airways for easier breathing and less snoring

Manufactured to the highest NZ Standards, ApneaRX is suitable to be used by anyone over 18 years of age.

Place your order for ApneaRX today

If you want to learn more about how ApneaRX works here or call 0800 111 325. Also, see our feature comparison chart page to learn how ApneaRx compares with other sleep apnea treatment options.