Sleep apnea is a common condition affecting millions of people nationwide. Unfortunately, not everyone with the condition knows they have it because the most telling symptoms occur during sleep. When people realize they have some form of sleep apnea, they can receive treatments or make lifestyle changes to improve their sleep and wellness.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for sleep apnea is one of those treatments. Though it isn’t as prevalent as other sleep apnea options, HBOT treatments positively affect its symptoms.
As the name suggests, sleep apnea is a sleep disorder. A person with this condition will experience breathing problems when they sleep. In severe cases, their breathing will stop and start over a hundred times a night, or they may experience persistent breathing interruptions in milder situations.
The effects of paused breathing dramatically affect the quality of sleep a person gets each night. If you have sleep apnea, you won’t get enough oxygen to your blood and organs (hypoxia) while you sleep, so your heart rate will slow. Your body will react involuntarily to prevent suffocation, causing you to wake up throughout the night to restart your breathing.
The lack of oxygen will increase your blood pressure, which is why hypertension or high blood pressure is closely related to sleep apnea. Unfortunately, the constant fluctuation in a person’s blood pressure can create severe medical conditions and problems for the heart and brain. For example, it can increase the risk of diabetes, heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and cardiomyopathy.
Aside from interrupted breathing and fragmented sleep, people with sleep apnea may also experience:
Sleep apnea has two forms: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea. OSA is the most common form of this sleep disorder, and it occurs if you have a total or partial airway obstruction in your upper respiratory tract. The blockage forces the chest muscles and lungs to overwork themselves to push air out and clear the airway.
Central sleep apnea is due to a malfunction of the central nervous system. The upper respiratory airway might be clear, but the brain doesn’t trigger or respond to the body’s signals responsible for breathing. A person with complex sleep apnea suffers from both forms of the sleep disorder simultaneously.
Since patients with sleep disorders don’t get sufficient oxygen saturation at night and are prone to more severe health conditions, it’s imperative for people who suspect they have sleep apnea to get help immediately. After undergoing a physical exam and sleep study to diagnose the disorder, patients may have one or more sleep apnea treatments:
Some medical professionals treat sleep apnea with supplemental oxygen therapy if their patients aren’t fit to use a CPAP machine due to their discomfort wearing the mask or health-related reasons. With supplemental oxygen, patients receive oxygen through a nasal cannula.
Though individuals undergoing supplemental oxygen therapy have a steady supply of oxygen flowing through their nasal passages, the oxygen has no pressure to push past blocked airways. The oxygen also doesn’t prevent sleep interruptions or improve carbon dioxide retention, which can happen due to poor oxygen intake.
Unlike supplemental oxygen therapy, clinical trials for hyperbaric oxygen therapy for sleep apnea show promising results. HBOT is a treatment where a person with sleep apnea rests inside a pressurized chamber with pure oxygen flowing through it. The pressure inside the chamber helps the blood absorb and dissolve more oxygen.
Increased oxygen saturation promotes healing in the body without inflammation. HBOT helps with many medical conditions like radiation injuries and carbon monoxide poisoning, but it can also improve your sleep quality if you have sleep apnea.
With an improved oxygen saturation within the blood, your airways won’t have as much inflammation. As a result, your upper respiratory tract will be more open, allowing you to breathe better while sleeping. Breathing oxygen in a pressurized chamber also helps you grow new blood vessels and improve blood circulation and oxygen delivery.
Each HBOT session lasts one to two hours. The number of sessions a person needs to see long-lasting results depends on the severity of their sleep apnea.
Additional Read: 5 Ways Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Can Change Your Life
Your body’s tissues rely on oxygen and nutrient-rich blood vessels. By breathing in up to three times the amount of oxygen in normal air through a pressurized chamber, you’re encouraging your body to heal itself by:
With hyperbaric oxygen therapy for sleep apnea, you’ll sleep better and feel better physically and mentally. Fortunately, the side effects of hyperbaric healing treatment are few and manageable. For example, some people experience ear popping or temporary sinus pain from the increased pressure inside the chamber.
The physical and mental wellness improvements due to hyperbaric oxygen therapy for sleep apnea are plentiful, especially when you combine hyperbaric healing treatment with other treatments and lifestyle changes. At NexGen Hyperbaric, LLC, we have over 15 years of experience bringing the benefits of hyperbaric oxygen into outpatient clinics.
Our hyperbaric experts maintain a high standard of care and operational safety. We also hold Undersea Hyperbaric & Medical Society accreditation. If you’re ready to experience the benefits of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for sleep apnea firsthand, call (888) 567-4302 for a consultation with our professionals at NexGen Hyperbaric, LLC.