If you snore, especially if you stop breathing for a couple of seconds and wake up gasping for air, then you may have sleep apnea. This condition may raise your risk for high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and daytime sleepiness. If your doctor determines that your apnea may be harming your health, he or she may recommend that you consider sleep apnea snoring surgery. In the meantime, here are three things that can lower your risk for obstructive sleep apnea so that you can feel more awake and energized during the day:
Avoid Allergy Medications Before Bed
If you take allergy medications, such as antihistamines, to relieve sneezing, watery eyes, and a runny nose, take them hours before going to bed. Antihistamines can relax the muscles of the back of your tongue, making it easier for it to slip back into your throat.
This can obstruct your airway and raise your risk for sleep apnea. If you have allergies, try natural remedies such as steam inhalation, sipping herbal teas, keeping your doors and windows closed when outdoor allergen counts are high outside, and drinking plenty of water to help thin out thick mucus in your nasal passages.
Manage Your Weight
Being overweight can also raise your risk for developing sleep apnea. Excessive abdominal fat can put pressure on your diaphragm, which may alter your pattern of breathing, leading to obstructive sleep apnea. Also, if you have too much fat around your neck, it can press down on your trachea, further obstructing your airway.
If you are unable to lose weight on your own, talk to your doctor about weight loss management strategies. These may include meeting with a nutritionist, increasing your dietary intake of lean protein, lowering your carbohydrate intake, and exercising more.
Treat Your Acid Reflux
If you have heartburn, a hoarse voice, dry cough, or a burning sensation in your chest, you may have acid reflux disease. If stomach acid migrates up into your throat, it may irritate your soft palate, vocal chords, tonsils, and pharynx.
When oral soft tissues become inflamed as a result of acid reflux disease, your risk for obstructive sleep apnea may rise. If you have acid reflux, try taking an over-the-counter antacid, keep a healthy weight, and avoid trigger foods such as coffee, chocolate, citrus fruits, and spicy foods. If these conservative methods fail to relieve your symptoms, talk to your doctor about acid blocking medications to suppress the secretion of gastric acid.
If you have sleep apnea and the above conservative treatments have not helped, talk to your doctor. He or she may recommend that you undergo a sleep study to evaluate your sleep apnea. If it is severe, you may be advised to consider sleep apnea surgery that will eliminate snoring so that you can sleep better at night.