Non-traditional Sleep Apnea Treatment
How Myofunctional Therapy can Help with this Condition
Most of us have heard of sleep apnea, but not everyone understands it. Essentially, sleep apnea (also referred to as obstructive sleep apnea) is a condition in which the airway temporarily closes off during sleep. Resultant breathing stoppages, called apneic events, can happen a few or a hundred times during a night of sleep.
The primary danger of breathing cessation is decreased blood and oxygen flow to the brain. If breathing is continually interrupted by a closed airway, it will negatively affect brain and heart function, as well as blood circulation. The results can be catastrophic.
After a medical doctor has diagnosed sleep apnea, the patient is usually prescribed therapy with a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine and face mask. The air pressure works to keep the airway open during sleep, thereby eliminating many common side effects such as daytime sleepiness and mental confusion.
Myofunctional therapy is not a cure for sleep apnea, nor is it used to diagnose the condition. However, it has been helpful in spotting clues that sleep apnea exists. Doctors who specialize in sleep apnea will determine a formal diagnosis. Myofunctional therapy is being applied more and more as a non-traditional sleep apnea treatment that aims to improve breathing during sleep.
Benefits of a Non-Traditional Sleep Apnea Treatment
It’s common in people with sleep apnea to also have weak or dysfunctional oral muscles. When these muscles are part of the tongue and throat, the airway will be weakened, making it easier for them to close during sleep.
Myofunctional therapy helps by providing a series of proven exercises designed to strengthen and re-pattern these muscles with the goal of reducing the number and severity of breathing stoppages a patient experiences during sleep.
While I’m not a medical doctor or a sleep specialist, I am a specialist in the function of facial muscles and the methods used to re-train and strengthen them. If you believe you may have sleep apnea, your first step is to meet with a qualified physician, preferably one who specializes in sleep disorders. After that, consider myofunctional therapy as a great adjunct to whatever treatment regimen your doctor prescribes.