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How to Prevent Sleep Apnea

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  • Whether symptoms of sleep apnea are manifesting or not, preventive measures like these are still vital in addressing the disease in its early stages
  • To prevent sleep apnea from affecting you and your loved ones, try these measures that affect different aspects of your physical health, such as breathing, diet and lifestyle

To prevent sleep apnea from affecting you and your loved ones, try these measures that affect different aspects of your physical health, such as breathing, diet and lifestyle.

Importance of Proper Breathing

The Buteyko Breathing method, named after the Russian physician who developed this technique, is a powerful approach for reversing health problems linked to improper breathing such as sleep apnea. The Buteyko Breathing method entails breathing through the nose rather than through the mouth, helping breathing volume to be brought back to normal levels and assisting with optimal oxygenation of tissues and organs, including the brain.

Mouth breathing, sighing, upper chest breathing, noticeable breathing during rest and taking large breaths before talking are indicators of over breathing. People showing these signs must consider trying the Buteyko breathing method. If you’re not breathing correctly while you’re awake, you have a higher risk for developing breathing problems while sleeping.1

Another way to retrain yourself to breathe properly through the nose and keep your mouth closed while sleeping is to place a small strip of surgical tape over your mouth. This will help keep the lips together during sleep and provide some resistance to prevent the mouth from automatically falling open. However, do not go overboard by using duct tape, because it can damage the sensitive skin around the mouth and lips.

A Healthy Diet Is Crucial

Avoid consuming processed foods, as they can acidify the blood in order to maintain normal pH levels. This can cause heavier breathing and lead to chronic over breathing, mainly because carbon dioxide in the blood assists with regulating pH levels. Aside from processed foods, high-protein and high-grain meals may have an adverse effect on your breathing, while raw fruits and vegetables, high-quality filtered water and cooked vegetables have the least impact.

The Link Between Breastfeeding and Reduced Sleep Apnea Risk

Sleep apnea and sleep disordered-breathing are linked to suboptimal growth of the mouth, teeth and face. Breastfeeding can be effective in preventing the aforementioned conditions and inhibiting development of sleep apnea and sleep disordered-breathing, so if you're pregnant, consider breastfeeding for at least six months after birth. This can help expand the size of the child's palate and shift the jaw forward, helping prevent sleep apnea by creating enough room for unobstructed breathing.

Avoid letting your child use a regular spouted cup since it may discourage correct oral function, particularly by not encouraging the tongue to rest, and not allowing the palate to form the proper width and develop the airway. Avoid baby bottles too, because they don’t allow the natural suction that a baby exerts on the breast. The slightest pressure of the baby’s tongue pushing on the bottle nipple rewards the baby with milk immediately, encouraging incorrect use of the oral anatomy.

Aside from breastfeeding, new mothers must avoid processed food diets for their babies and pay careful attention to the child’s diet in their early years. These changes can leave a positive impact on their lifelong ability to breathe and sleep comfortably.

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Can Sleep Posture Prevent Sleep Apnea?

To prevent sleep apnea, sleep on your side or on your abdomen or with your body elevated from the waist up, rather than on your back. Sleeping on your back can cause the tongue and soft palate to rest against the back of the throat and block the airway.

If you’re used to sleeping on your back, sew a tennis ball in the back of your pajama top to prevent you from going back to this position, or use foam wedges to raise the upper body. Avoid using soft pillows, because they may worsen sleep apnea by pushing the chin toward the chest.2,3

Other Lifestyle Tips to Avoid Sleep Apnea

There are also other lifestyle changes you should consider to help lower sleep apnea risk:4,5

Lose excess weight: Even the slightest loss in excess weight can help relieve constriction of the throat.

In some cases, it’s possible that sleep apnea can go into complete remission if you return to healthy weight. The disease may likely come back if you regain the weight.

Exercise: Studies have shown that exercise can lower sleep apnea risk. Plus, regular exercise may help ease symptoms of sleep apnea even without weight loss, reduce sleepiness and improve quality of life among people with this condition.

Avoid smoking and exposure to irritants like dust or perfumes: It’s said that smoking worsens obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Avoid consuming alcohol and taking medications like tranquilizers and sleeping pills: These may relax muscles in the back of the throat and interfere with breathing.

Gargle with salt water: This may lead to shrinking of the tonsils.

Keep your nasal passages open at night: There are numerous ways to do this. First, you can use a saline nasal spray to help keep the nasal passageways open.

You can consult your doctor about natural treatments for allergies, colds or sinus problems. Medications may suffice as a last resort if natural remedies don’t work.

Lastly, try using an air humidifier at night or put a few drops of essential oil in a vaporizer to assist with keeping the nasal passageways open.

Whether symptoms of sleep apnea are manifesting or not, preventive measures like these are still vital in addressing the disease in its early stages.


Sleep Apnea: An Introduction

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Sleep Apnea Causes

Types of Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea Treatment

Sleep Apnea Testing

Sleep Apnea Surgery

Sleep Apnea Prevention

Sleep Apnea FAQ

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