• Rule outs

    In the last two days I’ve received some interesting feedback from readers about obstructive sleep apnea that could be valuable to many, but isn’t clearly applicable in my case.

    1. One reader who was kind enough to speak with me by phone (video chat, even!) told me about a connection between being tongue tied as an infant (ankyloglossia) and developing OSA. More on this here, here, and here. I was not tongue tied as an infant, but I thought this information might be helpful for others.

    2. Another reader wrote that he had success treating OSA with the Buteyko method, which includes, among other things, training to help people who breathe through their mouths and/or sleep on their backs to stop doing so. Both of these will increase risk of OSA and snoring. I do neither.

    This doesn’t necessarily mean there’s no value in the other aspects of the Buteyko method for people like me. I certainly cannot know without having done it. A video on it I watched raised an interesting point. One contributing factor to airway collapse may be high velocity airflow during sleep. Bernoulli’s principle tells us that higher velocity means lower pressure. Keeping the pressure higher in the airway is exactly what CPAP machines do. But if the velocity of air during breathing could be decreased through practice, that may help. (It would seem to me that this may only be helpful for mild cases, if at all. The breath can only get so slow.)

    Clearly this would take considerable training — to change how one breathes during sleep, if it’s even possible. I gather that’s, in part, what the Buteyko method is about, but I have not examined it closely (there are lots of books and videos out there). Nevertheless, I could not help but think about slowing my breath as I fell asleep last night. I seriously doubt this had any impact on how I breathed during sleep, but it could not hurt any. At the very least, it’s relaxing. Coincidentally (?), I had the best night sleep in weeks, though not without apnea events, only a few of which woke me.

    Having said all this, it is important to emphasize that OSA can occur in people who don’t back sleep or mouth breathe. It can also occur in people who are not overweight. I do/am none of these, yet …

    More generally, OSA is not always due to things that are (potentially) modifiable with changes in habits, diet, and lifestyle. Sometimes (often? usually? almost always?) other interventions are necessary.


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