With sleep apnea being such a dangerous and generally improperly diagnosed condition, there are treatments available that are not typical. The typical go-to treatment for sleep apnea is using a CPAP mask. There are options available that will help and not be as cumbersome as a CPAP mask.
Patients with sleep apnea have progressively become more comfortable using a dental or oral appliance instead of a CPAP mask for treatment. Oral appliances prevent the airway of the patient from collapsing. It does so by holding the tongue in place or it slides the patient’s jaw forward. This is done so patients may breathe easier while they sleep. A sleep technologist could titrate an oral appliance that’s been fitted by a dental professional. This option is usually recommended for patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea that cannot tolerate a CPAP mask.
Though not always the first option, surgery is still a treatment for sleep apnea. The surgery involves reducing or eliminating any extra tissue in your throat. This tissue is what collapses and blocks a patient’s airway during sleep. Sometimes, the benefits of going through with surgery may very well be temporary. Sleep apnea can reoccur in the future for some patients. Surgical therapy isn’t as effective as CPAP and oral appliances but sometimes, it’s the best option for the patient.
Sometimes, sleep apnea is caused by weight gain of a patient. In an overweight patient, there is extra tissue in the throat causing the blocking of the airways. Sometimes, weight loss and improve or eliminate the patient’s sleep apnea symptoms. While there is no guarantee that sleep apnea symptoms will be lessened through a weight management program, it at least helps the general health and well-being of the patient.
Some patients will experience sleep apnea while they sleep on their backs, or in the supine position. When patients switch to sleeping on their side, their breathing can return to normal. Positional therapy involves wearing a special device around the waist or back that prevents a patient from sleeping on their back.
Changing aspects of their lifestyle may also assist a patient with sleep apnea. Smoking and drinking are found to detrimental to sleep quality in addition to the obvious health issues associated with them. Alcohol relaxes the throat muscles which can cause a patient to snore or their airway to collapse.
In conclusion, there are many other options available to patients to treat sleep apnea rather than relying on a CPAP mask. It’s best for patients to discuss with their doctor what treatment option is the right fit for them.