CPAP is the most commonly prescribed sleep apnea treatment. CPAP is sometimes called the “gold standard” of sleep apnea treatment because it can treat all types and severity of sleep apnea. However, CPAP has its problems: many people find it uncomfortable and cumbersome, which makes it hard for people to use it as much or as long as they should. Alternative treatments may be better for most people.
Dr. Roger Roubal is the foremost expert on sleep apnea in the Omaha, Nebraska area and the Midwest region. He understands the benefits and limitations of all treatment options. He can match you with the best sleep apnea treatment for you. Please call (402) 493-4175 or click here to schedule an appointment.
How CPAP Works
CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure, which gives you an idea about how the treatment works. It is basically a mask and pump arrangement that forces air into your mouth and/or nose. The pressure from the forced air can hold your airway open and ensure you continue receiving oxygen all night long.
CPAP can be used to treat both obstructive and central sleep apnea, and it can treat mild, moderate, and severe sleep apnea.
Limitations of CPAP
The primary limitation of CPAP is that it only works if people use it. In studies that define compliance as using CPAP at least 4 hours a night (commonly used, though effective treatment is often said to require 6 hours), as little as 29% of people are compliant with treatment. People tend not to use CPAP because of these common complaints:
- Dry nose and mouth
- Unpleasant pressure sensation
- Uncomfortable mask, hose, or apparatus
In one study, about 41% of people reported problems with their CPAP.
Fortunately, there are sleep apnea treatment alternatives that many people like better than CPAP. For mild sleep apnea, lifestyle modification may give enough improvement that CPAP is not necessary. For mild or moderate sleep apnea, oral appliance therapy is a medically-proven treatment alternative that is comfortable, portable, simple to use and care for, and effective. Although CPAPs are the preferred method of care for patients with severe sleep apnea, we have had great success treating severe sleep apnea patients who can’t tolerate their CPAPs.
Different oral appliances work in different ways, but most are mouthpieces worn to improve the openness of the airway. Some are called mandibular advancement splints. These mouthpieces work by gently repositioning the lower jaw, which is connected to the soft tissues in the throat, including the tongue, so that the soft tissues are less likely to block the airway. These CPAP alternatives also work to prevent snoring, and are now considered the best first line of treatment for mild-to-moderate sleep apnea by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
To learn more about your sleep apnea treatment options, please contact Dr. Roger Roubal in the Omaha today for an appointment.