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Effective CPAP Alternatives for Sleep Apnea

CPAP Alternatives for Sleep Apnea

CPAP Alternatives for Sleep Apnea

Estimates suggest that up to 22 million Americans suffer from Sleep Apnea, with even more going undiagnosed. Even if you do not suffer from it yourself, chances are you know at least one person who does. This disease causes the collapse of the airway during sleep, which often results in snoring and in the person’s inability to breathe for anywhere from a few seconds to a minute or longer. This can occur many times per night, in some cases up to hundreds of times, and contributes to several additional diseases, including heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and high blood pressure. The poor sleep suffered as a result of sleep apnea can also contribute to weight gain, increased stress hormones, and an increase in anxiety and irritability, all making it difficult to function in everyday life.

The Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) device is one of the first-line treatments for sleep apnea. It helps keep the airway open using a tube connected to the machine at one end and the user’s face at the other. The user wears a mask covering the nose and sometimes mouth. Pressurized air moves through the tube, keeping the person’s airway open at night, so they can breathe. A medical professional determines the amount of pressure required to keep the air moving at just the right amount for that individual. Unfortunately, the CPAP device is not a viable treatment for everyone. Read on to discover a variety of CPAP alternatives that might work for you.

Why Would Someone Need CPAP Alternatives?

While CPAP can be a literal lifesaver for many people who suffer from sleep apnea, there are some who are unable to tolerate this treatment option. Especially for those whose sleep apnea may be a little on the milder side, the noise from the machine can create an additional barrier to sleep. Others find it difficult to adapt to the feeling and restriction of mobility caused by the mask and tube setup. While all these things will often improve with time and practice, some people never do manage to have success with their device and need to investigate CPAP alternatives.

Common CPAP Alternatives

There are several options available for those who are not able to successfully use CPAP devices. Below is a sampling of popular choices for individuals still searching for a treatment that provides much-needed relief.

  1. Sometimes, patients find relief through simple lifestyle changes. For instance, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can contribute to sleep apnea. It relaxes muscles and tissue in the jaw and neck area, causing the airway to collapse or narrow during sleep. Eliminating, or at least greatly reducing, the amount of alcohol consumed may help.
  2. Weight loss is another possible solution for a person who suffers from sleep apnea. Buildups of fat around the tongue and throat cause significant airway narrowing. This is most noticable when lying down to sleep at night. Losing weight, thereby reducing fat, can make a difference.
  3. Simply changing the position in which you sleep at night can also have a positive effect on sleep apnea symptoms. Some patients have found that lying on their side makes it easier to breath than other sleeping positions.
  4. Surgery is yet another CPAP alternative, though a risky one with a long recovery time. There are several reasons someone may consider surgery. These include: reducing the size of an enlarged tongue and/or removing tonsils or adenoids. Surgery can also shorten a large palate, enlarge a jawbone, and several other considerations that you can discuss with your doctor.
  5. Another possible CPAP alternative is oral appliance therapy. This consists of a device similar to a mouthguard used in sports, that is worn in the mouth while sleeping. It moves the jaw forward, thereby assisting in keeping the airway open. This is a viable alternative for many sleep apnea sufferers. It is less risky than surgery, and is also often very affordable, especially as many insurance carriers cover it.

How Do I Know Which CPAP Alternative is Right for Me?

If you, or someone you know, is searching for a CPAP alternative, the first step is to consult with your qualified medical professional. If you have not yet been diagnosed, your doctor will likely order a sleep study that can be conducted in a center or possibly in your home. Once diagnosed, your doctor will discuss treatment options available to your unique situation. At this point, you will be able to determine which is best for you. Your physician will refer you to a qualified professional that can further assist, depending on the treatment option you choose.

Oral Appliance Therapy as a CPAP Alternative

Oral appliance therapy is one of the most common treatment options chosen as a CPAP alternative. While a dentist will provide the bulk of the treatment for this method, including choosing the best type of device for your needs, your physician will generally be the one to provide the initial referral. Your dentist will then provide a thorough evaluation to determine if oral appliance therapy may be right for you and will then work with you to determine the appropriate oral appliance for your needs. If you have trouble finding a dentist in your area, The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine should be able to help.

Why is it Necessary to Find a CPAP Alternative?

Sleep apnea is a serious disease that can impact many different areas of a person’s physical and mental health. CPAP can be an excellent therapy, but it’s not right for everyone. For those who cannot tolerate this method, it’s imperative that another treatment option be found that can serve their needs and help reduce or even eliminate sleep apnea symptoms, greatly increasing quality of life.

If you’d like to learn about using oral appliances as CPAP alternatives, please contact Mark Levy DDS at (614) 777-7350 today. Our experienced staff can provide a full evaluation as well as all the information you will need to make the best decision for your treatment needs.

Call Mark Levy DDS today at (614)777-7350 to learn more about treating your Obstructive Sleep Apnea with oral appliances.