Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition that severely complicates the lives of those who suffer from it. Many patients struggle for up to years before understanding that their health issues are caused by sleep apnea. Then, getting a proper diagnosis and finding an effective treatment method that the patient can tolerate is also a challenge. However, the struggle may not actually stop there.
Despite CPAP being the first therapy prescribed to patients, less than half are able to sleep with the masks, tubing, and machines. Some sleep apnea patients struggle with their CPAP because of:
- feeling claustrophobic from the mask
- unable to sleep with the mask
- experiencing facial irritation, skin breakdown, or headaches from the mask.
Reluctance to follow through with treatment can lead to severe health concerns including heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke, and weight gain. And, more recently, it was discovered that sleep apnea causes an increased risk of pulmonary complications following surgeries.
Understanding the Connection Between Surgery and Sleep Apnea
In January of 2011, researchers at Cornell University announced findings in the Anesthesia and Analgesia journal. The researcher stated, “Using a large nationally representative database, we identified sleep apnea as a risk factor for a number of pulmonary complications after orthopedic and general surgical procedures, thus providing a basis for an increase in the utilization of resources, including intensive monitoring and development of strategies to prevent and treat these events.”
The research team added, “Findings from this analysis may be used to design research projects to elucidate the mechanism and design interventions to reduce the risk of pulmonary complications among patients with sleep apnea undergoing surgery.”
Discussing Sleep Apnea with Your Surgeon
Given this new information, it’s vital that you discuss any sleep disorders including OSA with your doctor and surgeon prior to surgery. It’s a good idea to mention the condition even if you are following through with your treatment. The more they know about any potential health complications, the better they can plan and prepare for any consequences stemming from those health issues.
Patients may also want to consider investing in a medical alert bracelet or necklace if they suffer from diagnosed or undiagnosed sleep apnea. This simple piece of jewelry will alert whoever is providing medical treatment to their condition.
Finding an Effective OSA Treatment Option
Since sleep apnea has been linked to so many health complications and we continue to learn more about other ways this comes into play throughout our lives, finding an effective treatment option is more important than ever.
If you currently have a CPAP that you are not tolerating well or if you suspect that you or a loved one may have obstructive sleep apnea, it’s important to speak with a sleep specialist. They should help you find a treatment plan that’s not only effective but also something you’ll stick to for as long as you suffer from the condition.
Oral appliance therapy is the leading alternative to CPAP therapy. Using an oral appliance is safe, comfortable, and effective when it comes to treating mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea.