If you suffer from sleep apnea, a condition marked by interrupted breathing during sleep, your physician most likely recommended the use of a CPAP machine. However, not all patients are able to tolerate using CPAP, or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, machines consistently. Fortunately, there are effective alternatives available to help you manage your sleep apnea.
Read on to discover answers about CPAP intolerance and alternatives to CPAP.
What is CPAP?
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, or CPAP, machines deliver a consistent flow of air into your nose and mouth during sleep. Pressurized air passes through a hose and into a patient’s airway via a mask or nosepiece, facilitating regular breathing. CPAP is the most common method of treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) or sleep breathing disorders, but there are other effective options available.
What is CPAP intolerance?
Patients may have a CPAP intolerance for a variety of reasons.
A mask that does not fit properly or that leaks often leads to an unpleasant experience. CPAP machines often require straps and headgear that may cause discomfort for some, lead to restricted movements for others, and hinder the patient’s sleep. In addition, the noise from the machine may disturbed the sleep of either the patient or their bed partner.
Other side effects may include nasal congestion, nosebleeds, dry mouth, and skin irritation from latex allergies. Feeling claustrophobia or anxiety are common symptoms, as well.
If a patient experiences any of the listed reasons while attempting CPAP therapy, they should consider themselves intolerant to CPAP and seek available alternatives.
What are alternatives to CPAP?
If you suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) or sleep-disordered breathing, it is essential you do not go with treatment, especially if you are CPAP intolerant.
An effective alternative for treating sleep apnea is OAT, or oral appliance therapy. This treatment consists of wearing an oral appliance, similar to an orthodontic retainer, as you sleep. These oral appliances are custom made and work by stabilizing your mandible in a slightly forward position to maintain an open airway.
A dentist board certified in Dental Sleep Medicine should ONLY administer oral appliance therapy. They have completed additional training and courses to properly fit and titrate the appropriate appliances for each patient.
Under advice from your medical provider, you may also consider other methods of combating sleep apnea. Lifestyle adjustments, such as losing weight, positional sleep therapy, or cutting back on alcohol consumption may be effective at alleviating mild cases of sleep apnea. However, more severe cases may benefit from combination therapy, a CPAP and oral appliance, or as a final option, surgery.
If you are suffering from sleep apnea, CPAP intolerance or any other sleep-related condition, do not hesitate to seek help immediately.