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CPAP Alternatives

With sleep apnea, breathing stops completely and frequently during sleep. This condition disrupts the natural sleep pattern, causing sufferers to cough or gasp as they wake abruptly from rest. When left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure, fatigue, abnormal liver function, stroke, or even heart failure. Commonly, a CPAP is prescribed, but many patients look for a CPAP alternative.

Once sleep apnea has been diagnosed, a doctor may recommend using a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine to keep the airway open during sleep. CPAP consists of a motor, and a tube that connects to a facemask. The unit delivers a continuous flow of air and keeps the airway from collapsing during sleep.

Using a CPAP

Those that use a CPAP may need time to adjust to wearing a mask during sleep. Ambient noise of the motor, insufficient fit of the facemask, or irritation from the mask can cause the need for a CPAP alternative. In some cases, the machine causes discomfort in the chest and stomach. Patients who have also noted an increase in dry mouth or nose bleeds may need a CPAP alternative.

CPAP Alternatives

If a patient is having difficulty using a CPAP machine, the doctor may recommend alternative treatments. Addressing certain environmental factors may lessen or eliminate sleep apnea:

  • Avoid alcohol – consuming too much alcohol can disrupt sleep
  • Lose excess weight – 70% of obstructive sleep apnea patients are overweight
  • Adjust sleep position – sleeping on one’s side may alleviate mild sleep apnea
  • Exercise regularly – regular exercise can improve sleep in some patients
  • Use a nasal decongestant – for mild sleep apnea or snoring, a decongestant may deter sleep apnea
  • Undergo surgery – severe cases of airway obstruction may require surgery

In certain cases, a mouth guard may be an effective CPAP alternative. A custom fitted oral appliance worn while sleeping can keep the airway open by adjusting the angle of the lower jaw. Some mouth guards feature a splint to keep the tongue from obstructing airflow, as well.

Call Dr. Levy today to schedule a consultation so that we can discuss sleep apnea and CPAP alternatives.