How to Treat VA Sleep Apnea Disability [Like You Deserve]

How to Treat VA Sleep Apnea Disability

How to Treat VA Sleep Apnea Disability


If you’re like most people dealing with VA sleep apnea disability, you’ve likely researched natural cures for sleep apnea. Or, at least, you’ve Googled some type of holistic treatment for the sleeping issue.

After all, if you can avoid taking medication or wearing a CPAP mask, why wouldn’t you try the natural route? Especially, if it’s influencing your job.

In fact, one career seems to be impacted by sleep apnea more than any other - the military. Both active and inactive members of the military deal with all levels of sleep apnea.

Unsurprisingly, treating VA sleep apnea disability can be tricky. The complication is that benefits differ depending on whether you’re still active or have already separated from the military.

This post will fill you in on what you need to know regarding VA sleep apnea disability. Plus, we’ll give you a few natural cures for sleep apnea as well.


How Sleep Apnea Impacts the Military

Sleep apnea impacts those in the military—both active and inactive—more than any other group of people. And research shows the numbers are only increasing.

For example, the number of incidents from 2004 compared to 2015 have increased three-fold for those who are over 40 or had completed 18+ years of military service. It drops to two-fold for those having completed 11-17 years of military service.

Clearly, VA sleep apnea disability has a significant impact on our faithful military men and women.

Active Duty

Thankfully, if you are serving activity, you’ll be eligible for sleep apnea treatment. Plus, you’ll still be allowed to remain active in your military occupation. That is unless you’re in harm’s way by being deployed, assigned hazardous duty, etc.

Essentially, the military is responsible for treating your case of sleep apnea like any other illness or condition. Yet, it can become complicated after leaving the military scene.

Veteran

Often, the symptoms of VA sleep apnea disability don’t fully appear until after you’ve left the military. Developing service-related obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) often occurs after retiring from service. And, after your health provider has made a moderate sleep apnea diagnosis.

As you may have guessed, the issue is in proving that your current sleeping issue is actually service-connected VA sleep apnea disability. Proving this you also prove that your condition is  service-related and the military is responsible for your treatment.


VA Sleep Apnea Disability Benefits

As mentioned before, receiving treatment while you’re still active duty is standard procedure. It’s undoubtedly not as difficult as it is when you retire or separate from the military. Meaning, it can be very challenging to prove that your sleep apnea stems from your military experience.

Firstly, it’s important to know how the Department of Veteran Affairs actually validates VA sleep apnea disability. Like many others, the VA uses medical information gathered from a sleep study.

To confirm a diagnosis, of course, you’ll be required to have a sleep study test. The VA also has an obligation to help you in scheduling this particular examination.

However, this sleep study won’t be the sole provider of evidence that your sleep apnea is service-related. The VA will dig into your service records, medical records, and any other records they can get their hands on.

Things they’ll be looking for in terms of your overall history include:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Popular Sleep Apnea Treatment

If you’re impacted by VA sleep apnea disability, there are many popular treatment options. In fact, I wrote an entire blog post on it here.

CPAP Compliance

No matter what level of sleep apnea level you deal with, most medical professionals recommend the use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. Essentially, you wear a mask while you sleep to promote uninterrupted breathing.

Psychotherapy

Trauma, including PTSD,  is an enormous cause of sleep issues such as sleep apnea. Dedicating yourself to therapy doesn’t guarantee a reprieve of sleep apnea issue. Rather, it increases the likelihood that you’ll recover from the trauma you’ve experienced. Thus, increasing the chance of any sleep issues improving as well.

Various Therapeutic Options

Some people opt for dental appliances that promote uninterrupted breathing by repositioning the tongue and the lower jaw. Others use a nasal EPAP device to create positive airway pressure. And others still, choose hypoglossal nerve stimulation which works with your tongue muscles to promote an open airway.

Surgery

A more intense treatment route is to undergo surgery. Three main types of surgery exist to treat this condition, which include:

  1. Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty or UPPP
  2. Tracheotomy or Tracheostomy
  3. Maxillomandibular Advancement (MMA) Surgery

5 Natural Ways to Cure Sleep Apnea

Whether you suffer from VA sleep apnea disability or are a non-military individual dealing with OSA, there are many natural cures for sleep apnea. Following are not only the most effective management strategies but the most positively impacting for your term insurance rate.

1. Maintain a Healthy Weight

When you visit your healthcare provider about sleep apnea treatment, the first recommendation they’ll give is usually to lose weight. Keeping your weight at an optimal level is vital for warding off sleep apnea symptoms. It's pretty much ground zero when it comes to holistic treatment.

A healthy weight can help to keep your airways clear, often eliminating the need for surgery or long-term CPAP use. For some, getting and staying at a healthy weight eliminates sleep apnea altogether.  

2. Commit to an Exercise Regime

Along with keeping your weight optimal, it’s important to get moving. Regular exercise is a cure for many conditions including depression, anxiety, memory loss, cognitive disorders, sexual problems, etc.

Associated with sleep apnea is decreased oxygen saturation in the blood. Exercise is one of the top natural cures for sleep apnea because it helps to oxygenate the blood flow to your brain. This promotes uninterrupted breathing.

3. Change Your Sleeping Position

You may find it interesting that over half of sleep apnea cases occur because of the position in which the patient sleeps at night. And, if so many cases are dependent on sleep position, changing your own position may encourage better breathing (and more rest).

Sleeping on your back—otherwise known as the supine position—has proven to make sleep apnea symptoms worse. This position can cause you to snore and may block your airways. Sleeping on your side can open your airways, proving to be one of the most simple natural cures for sleep apnea.

4. Use a Humidifier

In many cases, sleep apnea symptoms are worsened by the atmosphere. Particularly, dry air such as what you may experience during the cold seasons or in a dry location.

As imagined, your body and respiratory system respond very negatively to dry air. In fact, it can irritate your overall system.

Simply using a humidifier in your bedroom can help to decrease congestion, open your airways, and promote better breathing.

5. Avoid Alcohol and Smoking

Many people assume that alcohol helps you to relax and fall to sleep. And, this is partially true. However, it also relaxes the muscles in your throat that control breathing. Alcohol can also cause your airways to become inflamed, preventing proper airflow. Because of this, you may snore more and experience interrupted sleep.

As well cutting back or cutting out your alcohol consumption, cut out tobacco, too. Like alcohol, tobacco can worsen airway inflammation. In fact, smoking is considered a risk factor for sleep apnea. Ultimately, it’s better to avoid the one-two punch of alcohol and tobacco.


Take the Next Step

Here at CB Acker Associates, we want to help you get the best term insurance rate possible. If you’re tired of getting the run-around or are sick of not having your questions answered, contact us. We can help!

To get you started, please check out my easy-to-read Buyer’s Resource Guide. It will help you make sense of the most complicated factors of sleep apnea and life insurance.

If you’re ready to get a great term insurance rate and a better understanding of elements impacting your rate, reach out today either by phone at 650-969-5844 or email [email protected].

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Chris Acker, CLU, ChFC
 

Chris is an independent life insurance broker located in Palo Alto, Ca. He started helping families and businesses build strong financial safety net in 1985. He earned a BA in history from Williams College in 1985. He Earned the CLU designation in 1989 and the ChFC designation in 1991. He is a past board member of the local chapter of the Society of Financial Services Professional. He has been a member of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors since 1985. Chris resides in Palo Alto with his wife, Carol and daughters Rachael and Samantha. In his spare time he is a regular platelet donor for the Stanford Blood Center and actively volunteers for various organizations and alumni groups.

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