It affects about 10 per cent of the adult population.
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that causes a person to stop breathing during the night.
One of the most common treatment options for obstructive sleep apnea is using what’s called a CPAP machine while sleeping at night.
“CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure,” said Dr. Ron Cridland, who owns and operates the Kelowna sleep clinic. “It’s a little mask that goes over the nose that blows air under pressure. That pressure holds the airway open so that it doesn’t collapse when you suck in your breath.”
The CPAP machine is said to be a very effective way for treating most patients, if used accordingly.
“For people who have significant sleep apnea and are significantly tired or fatigued, it can change their life literally overnight,” Dr. Cridland said.
But there are other treatment options as well.
For those whose sleep apnea is worse when they sleep on their backs, treatment may include wearing what’s called a body re-positional device.
“It’s also programmed to vibrate like a cell phone every time you turn on your back,” Dr. Cridland said. “So this is designed to wake you up every time you turn on your back.”
Medical doctors aren’t the only ones treating sleep apnea these days — so are more and more dentists, because mouth guards can also be very effective in managing the disorder.
Mouth guards prevent the lower jaw from falling back, increasing the airway’s space and making breathing easier.
Dr. Stephen Ho is an oral surgeon from Toronto. He told Global News that recent studies show that mouth guards can be just as useful as the CPAP machine for patients.
“When perhaps they’ve only been offered the CPAP previously, they are now looking at the literature saying, ‘Well this is actually a good alternative for me,’ and they are seeking this treatment alternative,” Dr. Ho said.
If all else fails, surgery is also a treatment option.