People with sleep apnea may be able to treat this condition without the use of an uncomfortable apnea mask, and still experience a good night’s sleep, thanks to some CPAP alternatives that work.
The main treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is CPAP therapy.
With CPAP therapy as well as other CPAP options, a patient will breathe through a face mask, which is attached to a hose and bedside pump.
While this type of treatment is considered very effective for sleep apnea, most patients will stop this treatment after just a few short weeks or months, due to the discomfort of the mask.
Other patients will stop using their CPAP machine because it’s simply too noisy, or the mask becomes displaced due to frequent moving during sleep.
CPAP Alternatives that Work: The Latest Technology in Sleep Apnea Treatment
CPAP alternatives include devices that suck the tongue forward, nasal attachments and surgical implants.
The efficiency rates for these CPAP alternatives are not as high as basic CPAP therapy.
While these treatments have shown promise, CPAP is still considered much more effective.
For many patients with apnea, while sleeping, the tongue and soft palate relax back into the airway, blocking it.
The sleeper’s blood oxygen level will drop and they will be momentarily jolted awake.
This can happen several times every hour.
When using a CPAP machine, a pressurized level of air will be blown into the mouth and nose, forcing the airways to remain open.
Many people who are prescribed CPAP therapy describe it as uncomfortable and even claustrophobic.
The mask can leave strap marks on the face in the morning and it requires the user to sleep on their back at all times, otherwise the mask will become dislodged.
Often, patients who have difficulty adjusting to their CPAP treatment will meet with their sleep specialist in order to learn more about CPAP alternatives that work.
The Winx device utilizes negative pressure in order to pull the tongue and soft palate forward, opening the airways.
A patient will wear a flexible mouthpiece, which is attached to a thin piece of tubing and a bedside console.
Studies performed regarding this apnea treatment found that it was effective in reducing apnea episodes in approximately fifty percent of patients who tried it.
This type of treatment is best for people whose apnea is caused by the collapse of the soft palate.
Only a few health insurance companies will cover the cost of the Winx, which has a price tag of a thousand dollars.
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Implants to Treat Sleep Apnea
Some sleep specialists are taking an interest in a more invasive approach to sleep apnea.
Currently, there are a couple of companies testing implantable devices that are designed to keep the airways open during sleep.
These implants work by stimulating the hypoglossal nerve.
This nerve runs underneath the tongue. The device is implanted surgically, beneath the skin on the chest. One lead extends up the neck, encircling the hypoglossal nerve, while the other one extends to the middle of the chest.
While sleeping, this device works by electrically stimulating the nerve with each breath.
A patient will use a remote control in order to turn the device on, once they’re ready for bed. When the device is switched on the patient should feel a mild tingling sensation.
The battery life in one of these devices can run for eight to ten years.
Small studies have shown that this device is most effective in patients with a certain type of soft palate collapse and for patients who are not significantly obese.
Sleep experts believe that this type of CPAP alternative will only be ideal for patients who are unable to tolerate CPAP therapy.
There is also some concern regarding the long-term side effects associated with the continual stimulation of the hypoglossal nerve, however there have been no studies to determine what this can involve.
The Provent device is another type of CPAP alternative that works that has gained popularity in the recent years.
This device is disposable and features tiny valves that work by opening when a patient inhales and closing upon exhaling.
This works to create pressure that will prop open the airways.
This treatment will cost approximately $60 to $70 a month and it’s not usually covered by health insurance. Unfortunately, this treatment isn’t effective for users who breathe through their mouths.
Don't Completely Rule Out CPAP Treatment
Apnea specialists have noted that CPAP treatment itself has greatly improved in recent years.
The apnea masks are more comfortable and smaller and the newer models include hydrated air and quieter running motors.
Other CPAP alternatives for apnea will include dental devices that adjust the lower jaw in a forward position.
These devices are created by sleep specialists or dentists and are made to custom fit your mouth, in order to prevent sores or jaw pain due to the device being the wrong size.
Surprising Apnea Statistics: Millions of Americans Affected
Approximately twenty million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, and unfortunately, most cases go undiagnosed and untreated.
Untreated cases of apnea can lead to an increased risk for stroke, heart attack and respiratory conditions.
Because of these risks, it’s important that your sleep apnea be treated as soon as possible.
- Most CPAP users who stop this therapy due so because this treatment can be uncomfortable
- The Winx device utilizes positive pressure in order to pull the tongue and soft palate forward, opening the airways
- For many patients with apnea, while sleeping, the tongue and soft palate relax back into the airway, blocking it
- Approximately ten million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, and unfortunately, most cases go undiagnosed and untreated
- The Winx apnea treatment is best for people whose apnea is caused by the collapse of the soft palate