Alternative Therapies and Sleep Apnea

September 12, 2021
Avatar for Kelley MingusKelley Mingus

If you have sleep apnea, chances are you’ve tried at least one thing to reduce or eliminate the side effects of this frustrating condition. Between the lack of quality sleep to the sluggish, tired feeling you may have become accustomed to, sleep apnea can upset your daily life, even when you’re not asleep.

That’s why some people are willing to try anything to curb this sleep disorder – including trendy new treatments or suggestions from social media influencers. But as The Atlantic reports, one new frontier in treatments could be causing patients more harm than good.

They may not be new, but frenuloplasties are becoming increasingly popular in adults. Normally associated with babies and young children, frenuloplasties are used to address a “tongue-tie,” where the frenulum of the tongue is cut to allow the tongue to move more freely. While this procedure is necessary for some adults, experts are cautioning against using it as a sleep apnea treatment, as there is still little evidence it can help.

The same applies to another treatment option called myofunctional therapy, which is basically a series of exercises for the tongue. Myofunctional therapy is being touted by celebrities and Youtubers, but again, some experts feel there is not enough evidence to suggest that this type of exercise is helpful. Some even argue that it could be harmful.

As with any new elective therapy or procedure, patients should always do their due diligence and get a second opinion. Speaking to doctors and surgeons, reading reviews, and discussing with family are all excellent ways to get a clearer understanding of your goals, the outcome of the surgery, and whether the risk is worth the rewards.

While some experts argue that myofunctional therapy “can’t hurt,” others insist that it can, and can even worsen sleep apnea symptoms. The therapy is still so new that there are not any standardizations or licenses to perform it, and according to The Atlantic, exercises could vary dramatically between practitioners.

The good news is that while more studies are being conducted on this type of treatment, there are safe and effective options for addressing your sleep apnea, such as mandibular orthotic devices which position the airway open while you sleep. These devices are a safe and natural way to help you breathe easier during sleep, and are available through Dr. Mingus. If you are interested in learning more about mandibular sleep apnea devices, please contact the office and schedule a consultation today.