Health Tips from a Mother of Three

Lowering Your Risks For Apnea-Related Complications

If you snore, or if you wake up gasping for air, you may have obstructive sleep apnea, which can cause multiple episodes of apnea, or cessation of breathing while you sleep. While you may need to see a sleep apnea surgeon for a complete resolution of your condition, there are some strategies you can follow to help lower your risk for apnea-related complications such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and extreme daytime sleepiness. 

Lose A Few Pounds

Being overweight is one of the primary risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea. When you are overweight, especially if you carry excess weight around your neck or your abdomen, pressure is placed on your diaphragm and airway.

This can cause snoring and breathing abnormalities during sleep. You do not need to lose a lot of weight in order to lessen the frequency and severity of your apnea episodes. Losing just a few pounds will help facilitate a better pattern of breathing while you sleep.

Following a high protein and low carbohydrate diet will promote weight loss, however, if you have kidney problems, talk to your doctor before incorporating more protein into your daily meal plans. If you are unable to follow a weight loss diet on your own, your doctor may refer you to a nutritionist who will develop a dietary program suited to your individual needs. 

Avoid Alcohol Before Bedtime

Consuming alcohol before bedtime can cause snoring and sleep apnea. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant and muscle relaxer. Because of this, the muscle in the back of your tongue may relax to the point where it causes your tongue to slip into the back of your throat. This can obstruct your airway and prevent you from breathing effectively, causing obstructive sleep apnea.

Alcohol can also suppress respiratory function, which can also contribute to apnea episodes. If you are prone to snoring or apnea, drink your last alcoholic beverage at least a few hours before you retire for the night. This way, most of its effects will have worn off, allowing you to sleep and breathe better.

If you wake up gasping for air during the night or if someone in your household tells you that your snore, make an appointment with your physician for a check up. If needed, he or she will refer you to a sleep apnea surgeon for further evaluation and treatment. Before the sleep specialist implements a plan of care to treat your apnea, you may need to undergo a sleep study at a hospital-based sleep lab.