It’s no secret that sleep is a vital part of our lives. Not only does it help us to recharge from our busy lives, it also gives the body time to heal and regain some of the energy lost during the day. For many people, sleep is a relaxing time. But, for those suffering from sleep disorders it can be a frustrating experience. More than 50 million people in the United States suffer from some kind of sleep disorder, and about half of those cope with sleep apnea. However, help may come from an unexpected source. Read on to learn more about the relationship between your chiropractor and sleep apnea.
IS MY SNORING DUE TO SLEEP APNEA?
Sleep Apnea is a chronic condition in which your breathing is obstructed while you sleep. One of the main characteristics of this disorder is waking up in the middle of the night gasping for air. That is the body’s response to a lack of oxygen. Other symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Insomnia or restless sleep
- Low energy or sleepiness during the day
- Headaches when you wake up
- Reduced libido or memory problems
- Sore or dry throat in the morning
Another common symptom of sleep apnea is snoring, but just because you snore does not mean you have Sleep Apnea. While those with sleep apnea tend to snore more regularly and loudly, it may not be the cause. You should also consider:
- Age: As you get older, especially around middle age, the throat narrows and muscle tone starts to decrease.
- Physical Characteristics: Men are more likely to snore due to narrower air passages, but other physical traits can lead to snoring include a narrow throat, cleft palate, or enlarged adenoids.
- Sinus and Nasal Congestion: If you suffer from allergies, mucus can block your airways making it more difficult to breathe.
- Sleep Position: Sleeping on your back can cause the flesh in your throat to relax, which makes it easier for the airway to become obstructed.
AM I AT RISK FOR SLEEP APNEA?
So, who does sleep apnea affect? The simple answer is that sleep apnea can affect people of all ages, even children. Certain lifestyle factors can give you a better idea if you are at risk for sleep apnea. Some of those risk factors are:
- Weight: Being overweight increases the change that you will suffer from sleep apnea, as fat deposits around the upper airway can obstruct breathing.
- Age: While children can have sleep apnea, it happens much more significantly in older adults.
- Gender: Compared to women, men are up to three times more likely to have sleep apnea.
- Genetics: A family history of sleep apnea means you are more likely to have the disorder than someone who does not have diagnosed family members.
- Alcohol or Substance Use: Alcohol, sedatives and tranquilizers all cause the muscles in your throat to relax, which can make sleep apnea worse by obstructing the throat.
- Tobacco: The chemicals in cigarette smoke can result in inflammation and fluid retention in the upper part of the airway, making smokers about three times more likely to suffer from sleep apnea than non-smokers.
- Congested Nasal Passages: Whether your congestion is anatomical or caused by allergies, difficulty breathing through your nose makes you more likely to develop sleep apnea.
- Narrow Air Passage: There are many reasons that airways can be narrow. Whether the cause is something genetic, or something caused by swollen tonsils or adenoids, it can cause the airway to become obstructed more easily. This has also been known to happen in people with thicker necks.
CAN GOING TO A CHIROPRACTOR HELP WITH SNORING?
Who can help with your snoring problem? If you did not think of a chiropractor at first, you are probably not alone. While chiropractors are known for helping treat painful conditions of the neck and back, they can also help you breathe a little easier. The methods used by chiropractors stimulate circulation and help to improve communication between the brain and the body. Your chiropractor might also give you other treatment assignments to do at home, including:
- Changing your sleep position
- Raising the head of your bed
- Use nasal strips to open the airways
CAN A CHIROPRACTOR HELP WITH SLEEP APNEA?
If these methods are not helping with your snoring, it means your snoring could be a symptom of sleep apnea. So, what can your chiropractor do to help you?
Your chiropractor will want to start by learning more about the symptoms you have experienced and your overall lifestyle. If they determine that sleep apnea is the cause, they may move forward with treatments such as soft tissue massages and spinal adjustments to help you relax and breathe properly. Your chiropractor may also give your breathing exercises, advise you on a better diet, or suggest other lifestyle changes to promote proper breathing.
WHEN SHOULD I CONTACT A CHIROPRACTOR FOR SLEEP APNEA?
Left untreated, sleep apnea can worsen and cause more serious issues. It can lead to complications, such as:
- High Blood Pressure/Heart Disease
- Trouble Concentrating