Preventing Fluid Accumulation
The principle is basically the same as proposed for calf exercises. By preventing fluid accumulation around the calves, there is less fluid that gets redistributed through the body when a person lies down to sleep at night. With less fluid accumulation, there is less weight on the airway, less constriction of the airway, and therefore less snowing and fewer apneic events.
The study looked at a very small number of people, just 45 sleep apnea sufferers, divided into a treatment group (22) and a control group (23). The apnea-hypopnea index (AHI), fluid levels, and the cross-sectional area of the airway were measured before treatment, and after two weeks.
The group wearing compression socks saw a significant decrease in AHI (from 32.4 to 23.8) compared to the control group (from 31.2 to 30.3).
The group wearing compression socks also saw less fluid redistribute from their lower legs, and a widening of their airway.
Every Little Bit Helps
The reduction in AHI for the treatment group here is not really enough to make us happy. Ideally, we want to see people have five or fewer apneas an hour. However, the reduction here is significant in that it takes a person from what is normally considered severe sleep apnea (AHI 30 or more), where your insurance will likely require you to try CPAP first, into an area where you may not be required to try CPAP first, but can get a more comfortable and convenient oral appliance first.
Of course, it remains to be seen whether the results of this early study will hold up under future research. If you would like to learn more about comfortable, convenient CPAP alternatives, please call (402) 493-4175 for an appointment with an Omaha sleep dentist at the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center.