Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. If left untreated, sleep apnea can cause daytime fatigue, weight gain, difficulty focusing, and even more serious ailments like high blood pressure. If you have sleep apnea, it needs to be treated – even if it’s not a severe case. CPAP machines are the most common treatment for sleep apnea, but there are various CPAP alternatives that we’ll explore in this guide.
Why Use an Alternative Treatment for Sleep Apnea?
CPAP machines have always been the most popular treatment, and for good reason – they work. So, why would one consider using alternatives to CPAP? There are several factors, including:
- Incompatibility with CPAP devices – many sleep apnea patients have trouble using CPAP machines for one reason or another. Some find the masks too uncomfortable, while others move around too much at night. CPAP treatment doesn’t work for a surprising number of patients.
- Inconvenience of CPAP treatment – CPAP treatment typically works well, but it’s inconvenient. You need to clean the machine regularly, keep distilled water on hand for the humidifier, and travel with a bulky machine.
- Personal preference – some folks simply don’t like using a CPAP, and that’s okay! Thankfully, there are viable CPAP alternatives that we’ll discuss below.
What are the Best CPAP Alternatives?
Finding the best CPAP alternative for you will require a consultation with your sleep doctor, but it’s best to have a rough idea of your options before making the appointment. You can ask your doctor about these alternatives to CPAP and if they’d work for your specific medical condition. Here are some of the most common alternatives to CPAP machines:
Oral appliances are similar to mouth guards. They are specially designed by dental professionals who tailor fit the device to your mouth. Oral sleep apnea appliances are designed to prevent the collapse of the tongue and throat tissues, which helps to keep the airway open during sleep. They can be effective for patients with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. Oral mouth guards are a popular alternative treatment for sleep apnea because they are non-invasive and convenient.
There is a strong correlation between a patients weight and their sleep apnea severity. Overweight and obese patients are much more likely to suffer from sleep apnea. And, in many cases, symptoms of sleep apnea can be reduced or even eliminated by losing weight. Overweight patients who suffer from sleep apnea should speak with their doctor about options for weight loss, via natural means or through bariatric surgery.
Depending on the type and severity of sleep apnea, the condition can be treated or even cured with oral surgery. The surgical procedure recommended will vary based on your individual condition, but typically procedures will involve the soft palate, tongue, tonsils, or throat. Obviously surgery is a significant step to take, so it’s only recommended for a small percentage of patients.
BiPAP, or BiLevel PAP Therapy is a treatment similar to CPAP. The difference is that BiPAP uses two pressure settings, one for inhalation and one for exhalation. BiPAP treatment is generally recommended for patients who have sleep apnea and a lung issue such as COPD. In some cases, it’s also used as an alternative to CPAP for patients who don’t respond well to traditional CPAP machines.
Choosing The Best CPAP Alternative for You
Selecting an alternative sleep apnea treatment should be a decision made with the help of your doctor. There are a lot of different factors to consider, and no two patients are the same. If you’re curious about CPAP alternatives, schedule an appointment with your doctor today!