Is CPAP the only sleep apnea treatment?
Continuous positive airway pressure, more commonly known as CPAP, is a proven treatment for sleep apnea. It involves a machine that pumps a steady stream of air into your lungs while you sleep via a nose piece or a face mask.
The constant stream of air counteracts the collapse of your throat, tongue, and/or soft palate to keep you airways safely open. This helps to ensure that you receive adequate oxygen and restful sleep each night.
What causes sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is caused by over relaxed or too thick throat tissues. There can be several reasons why this problem occurs.
You may be more susceptible to sleep apnea if you have or are:
- over age 40
- a large neck (17 inches or more for a man and 16 inches of more for a women)
- large tonsils, a large tongue, or a small jaw bone
- a family history of sleep apnea
- gastroesophageal reflux, or GERD
- nasal obstruction due to a deviated septum, allergies, or sinus problems
Sleep apnea is often classified as mild, moderate or severe.
So what’s the problem with CPAP?
For many sleep apnea sufferers, CPAP can be difficult to tolerate. Why?
- the noise from the machine can interrupt sleep
- the pumped air can cause dryness in the nasal passages and throat
- the apparatus is fairly bulky and difficult to transport when travelling
- machines need upkeep and maintenance, adding extra costs to CPAP treatment
In some cases, CPAP proves so problematic, people either stop using the machine halfway through the night, abandon the treatment altogether.
Is there a CPAP alternative?
The consequences of sleep apnea can be very serious, and finding effective treatment is critical for your well-being.
The first step is to see a sleep specialist to determine if you have sleep apnea and its severity. Lethbridge dentist Dr. Lachman or your medical doctor can help you by referring you to a sleep clinic.
Once diagnosed, especially if you have tried CPAP and find it hard to tolerate, you’ll need to work with your doctor and Dr. Lachman to find an effective sleep apnea treatment.
- For very mild cases of sleep apnea, losing weight, avoiding alcohol, sleeping on your side instead of your back, or sleeping with your head and chest elevated may be all you need to get back to restful sleep
- In mild to moderate cases of sleep apnea, an oral appliance can often provide effective treatment
- For moderate to severe cases of sleep apnea, combination therapy and additional corrective measures are often required to properly manage the condition
Learn more about dental sleep apnea treatment options
If you would like to learn more about sleep apnea treatment options and how Dr. Lachman may be able to help you, please schedule a consultation.