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Natural ways to treat Sleep Apnea

Updated on January 23, 2013
Sleeping in strange positions can cause breathing problems
Sleeping in strange positions can cause breathing problems
Common problems
Common problems
Problems with the muscles in the throat can cause sleep apnea
Problems with the muscles in the throat can cause sleep apnea

Sleep apnea

According to the World health Organization over 100 million people suffer from Sleep Apnea (OSA) around the world. The condition is more common in large cities and urban populations. At the moment 1 in every 4 men, and 1 in every 9 around the world suffer from Sleep Apnea and cases are on the increase.

In the United States alone 12 million people have the condition, and the WHO estimates that only 25% of cases have been diagnosed.

Sleep Apnea - what is it?

Sleep Apnea is a condition which affects the way you breathe during sleep. During sleep breathing becomes interrupted or may become extremely shallow. As a result you spend more time in a light sleep rather than in deep sleep which your body needs to help you function better. Without our deep sleep cycle we do not function as well, have less energy and do not feel refreshed.

There are three types of Sleep Apnea; Obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea and complex sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea happens when the soft tissue in the back of your throat relaxes too much during sleep resulting in a blocked airway. This normally causes loud snoring.

Central sleep apnea this takes place when our brains do not signal the muscles which control our breathing. This condition does not normally lead to snoring.

Complex sleep apnea is a combination of Obstructive and Central sleep apnea and can affect the oxygen level in your blood. In Complex sleep area your brain kick starts your breathing when the throat muscles relax too much and you may wake up feeling that you can’t breath or experience a choking sensation.

Sleep apnea symptoms

It is can be difficult to learn your own symptoms if you sleep alone however if you share a bed with someone start by asking them if you are becoming concerned about your sleep.

Sleep apnea symptoms to look out for:

Loud and chronic snoring – this normally affects sufferers of Sleep apnea, and goes on throughout the night

Pauses in breathing – stopping to breathe and laying very still with little or no visible nor audible breath.

Choking and waking up gasping for air – a very common and frightening symptom. Some people may even have to sit up to regain their breath.

Feeling tired during the day, irritable, loss of concentration and memory problems – these are extremely common symptoms for people suffering from Sleep apnea.

Sore throat, dry mouth and headaches in the morning – waking up with a headaches means that your brain has not been well oxygenated during the night. A dry mouth and sore throat are both indications of breathing problems during sleep.

Depression – long term sufferers of Sleep apnea start to suffer from depression and anxiety.

Night time bathrooms visits – visiting the bathroom frequently during the night can be another symptom which indicates disturbed sleep.

What triggers Sleep apnea

There are several triggers or risk factors. Being obese is one of these factors however other factors such as enlarged tonsils or adenoids. Allergies which lead to nasal congestion and asthma is another factor to consider. More serious condition may also play a role such as heart disease, strokes, injuries to the nervous system or the brainstem. It is also thought that factors such as pollution which can damage are respiratory system play a major role.

Some medications such as tranquilizers could also be responsible and certain foods may possible trigger sleep apnea. Avoiding foods which create mucus is a good idea.

Diagnosis of sleep apnea

Unfortunately many sufferers of sleep apnea initially have their symptoms dismissed by doctors and insomnia may be diagnosed instead.

When you go to visit your doctor it is a good idea to bring a “sleep diary”. A sleep diary should contain simple notes how you have slept over a period of a month, how you felt the next day and any physical symptoms which you may experienced.

Make a note if you were tired, had a cold, difficulty with concentration or in a bad mood the next. Also note how many times during the night you woke up and if you snored.

If you live in a polluted area make a note of the extent of the pollution each day when you come home from work; was it high or low. All of these factors are really important when diagnosing sleep apnea.


Managing sleep apnea naturally

After diagnosis there are various conventional treatment you could try however I find sleep apnea is a condition which can be treated using natural treatments and life style changes very effectively.
These are the treatments or actions which I think work best:

Improve your breathing – we seldom use our respiratory system properly . Learning how to breathe better is a good idea. Yoga has some great breathing techniques which can help but general exercise to increase your fitness and blood oxygen level also helps.

Weight – make sure you are the correct weight. Being obese or overweight is one of the most common risk factors.

Smoking – this is a no-no if you have sleep apnea. Stop smoking and start walking – you will soon feel better,

Sedatives, sleeping pills and alcohol – I know of many people with sleep apnea who have resorted to these three. All three affect the muscles in your throat and makes the condition much worse.

Regular sleep – here’s a news flash – sleep is good for you. Regular sleep at regular hours will help you to relax and as a result you will sleep better. Also get the laptop off your bed and confine the television to the bedroom. Make your bedroom your sanctuary. No pets, stuffed animals just you in the bed.

Bed bugs – make sure your bed is hygienic and be aware that bed bugs and dust mites love your bed as much as you do. Change the bed linen often and make sure you sleep in a room with a comfortable temperature.

Lavender – put a few drops of lavender essential oil on some cotton wool. This will help you to relax and drift off deeper into a good sleep. If you have allergies or asthma essential oil of lotus is a good alternative. Remember to change your cotton wool every night.

Sleep apnea is a treatable condition and the better you sleep the more your episodes of sleep apnea will decrease.

Children can suffer sleep apnea
Children can suffer sleep apnea

Sleep apnea in children

Enlarged adenoids are the most common cause of sleep apnea in children

Sleep apnea in children can result in hyperactivity and decreased school performance. Other symptoms such as bed wetting, night mares and excess perspiration should be noted, and also try to remember if your child sleep in a strange position. Children with sleep apnea often breathe through the mouth instead of the nose. It is best to see a doctor to get the condition diagnosed and once again keeping a sleep diary over a month helps.


Homeopathy treatments for sleep apnea

Sleep apnea and homeopathy

Homeopathy is an excellent treatment for this very modern disease.Please make sure you visit a homeopath who is also a qualified doctor. Your licensed homeopath may treat you with one or a combination of the following remedies.

Lachesis – if you are frightened of going to sleep this really helps. People with severe medical problems can sometimes be worried about going to sleep.

Arsenicum album – treats respiratory disorders which get worse at night. Sambucus is an alternative.

Opium – if you suffer from confusion because of sleep apnea this remedy might help you.

Spongia – great if your respiratory system is affected by cold, air conditioning or chest problems.

Sulphur – treats conditions such as disturbed sleep and nightmares.

Support organizations

There are some great support organisations if you suffer from sleep apnea.

If you are in the UK click here

If your are in the United States click here

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    • Healthyannie profile image
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      Healthyannie 3 years ago from Spain

      Lavender is a great sleep aid, either as a room spray or a couple of drops on some cotton wool.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      I appreciate your information on this topic. I believe eating dairy products late at night before bedtime causes me to snore and a bit of sleep apnea. I am going to try the lavender mist suggestions for a better sleep aid.

    • Healthyannie profile image
      Author

      Healthyannie 4 years ago from Spain

      Thanks Cathy . A lot of people suffer from sleep apnea. Personally I think it has a lot of do with pollution, and sadly I include our food in that. Breaks my heart. Children who drink unpasteurized milk are healthier and suffer less bowel disorders and other diseases.

    • Cathy Fidelibus profile image

      Ms. Immortal 4 years ago from NJ

      This is an excellent hub, thank you. My brother suffers from sleep apnea. I will pass on this information.

      voted up!

    • Mrs Jil Manning profile image

      Mrs Jil Manning 4 years ago from Sussex, England

      Thanks Annie that is so helpful! I have a Waitrose only 2 miles down the road I will have a look next time I go.

    • Healthyannie profile image
      Author

      Healthyannie 4 years ago from Spain

      One comment here . . . please don't give up on bread. Swap your bread for healthy brown /multi grained bread. A good bread is full of B vitamins. Your B vitamins are so improtant to you especially if you are a sleep apnea sufferer. Even consider a B complex supplement for your husband and your son. Just to say there are many great grains which are good for you other than wheat. I will send you a draft from my next newsletter which is all about grains. Waitrose sell a lot of good grain products I noticed last time we were in the UK. Take care Annie

    • Mrs Jil Manning profile image

      Mrs Jil Manning 4 years ago from Sussex, England

      I think dust mites play a really big part in allergies and sleep apnoea. My son suffers asthma when he comes back home to stay. although we haven't got carpets downstairs, we do have them upstairs and the house does get very dusty from my cats. Some friends of ours have improved their snoring by changing diet, leaving out bread and wheat products, and I have cut a lot of bread out of our diets since, with good results. I had never considered pollution but that could definitely play a big part in it too. Thanks Annie!

    • Healthyannie profile image
      Author

      Healthyannie 4 years ago from Spain

      Hi Jil, I know it is really difficult but I keep wondering how much pollution plays apart in all of this. Also living in England - do you have carpets in your home? I know they help to keep the floor warm but they collect lots of dust and those nasty, nasty dust mites. Take care Annie

    • Mrs Jil Manning profile image

      Mrs Jil Manning 4 years ago from Sussex, England

      arrgh Mr M has sleep apnoea and he has to have a CPAP machine on him at night, which has helped. Of course the other victim is the spouse, or the marriage, as its not easy sleeping with a person who suffers this. Thank you for an informative hub on this subject!