If you have ever visited a sleep medicine physician, he or she may have recommended that you make an appointment with a sleep clinic to undergo a sleep study. The study will help determine if you have sleep apnea, which refers to episodic periods of breathing cessation during your sleep cycle.
If left untreated, sleep apnea may raise your risk for cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and excessive daytime sleepiness. There are, however, some simple things you can do at home to reduce your risk. Here are three easy strategies to help reduce your risk for sleep apnea and how they work to lower your risk:
If you sleep on your back, your airway can become obstructed. This is especially common in people who are overweight or who carry excess weight around their necks, By simply sleeping on your side, the airway will be kept open, which will help prevent apneic episodes.
Also, if you take certain medications, it can cause the relaxation of the muscles in your tongue, and if you sleep on your back, your tongue can relax into your throat. Sleeping on your side will help prevent this type of airway obstruction and may even help reduce episodes of snoring.
Lose A Few Pounds
Being overweight can dramatically raise your risk for sleep apnea. Visceral fat can place pressure upon your diaphragm, impairing your breathing. Also, as stated above, too much fat around the circumference of your neck can also impair your breathing.
Losing just a few pounds can help reduce the frequency and severity of sleep apnea episodes, reducing your risk for heart disease and hypertension. If you are unable to lose weight on your own, make an appointment with your physician, who will recommend strategies to help you shed excess weight. In the meantime, decrease your intake of sugary, high carbohydrate foods, and limit you intake of alcohol. Talking a walk after dinner will also help burn calories and may also help relieve joint pain, improve your breathing, and enhance your energy levels.
If you have GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, you may be at a higher risk for snoring and sleep apnea. Acid reflux can irritate your vocal cords and cause pharyngeal swelling, both risk factors in the development of apnea. If you have GERD, see your doctor.
In the meantime, try taking an over-the-counter antacid or acid-blocking medication that will which help neutralize irritating stomach acid. In addition, avoid GERD trigger foods such as chocolate, coffee, tomatoes, citrus fruit, and peppermint. Sleeping with the head of your bed elevated will also help keep stomach acid from traveling up into your throat and irritating your airway.
If you snore, wake up gasping for air, or experience excessive daytime sleepiness, make an appointment with a sleep medicine doctor at a clinic like Elkview General Hospital. When sleep apnea is recognized and treated properly, you may be less likely to develop complications such as high blood pressure, low energy levels, and cardiovascular disease.Share