Continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, is an effective treatment for sleep apnea that’s often called the “gold standard”. If you or a loved one has to undergo treatment for snoring or sleep apnea, CPAP will probably be the first option recommended by your doctor.
The system works by sending pressurized air directly into your mouth and nose through a mask that you wear as you sleep. This keeps the airway open, preventing obstructions that cause snoring and pauses in breathing, also known as a disorder called sleep apnea. While CPAP typically works for those who use it properly, many people find the mask uncomfortable and difficult to wear for one reason or another. Others simply aren’t compliant. In fact, only about 45% of CPAP users wear the mask as directed.
CPAP Side Effects & Complaints
For those who do attempt to use the mask on a nightly basis, side effects often prove to be too much to handle. These can include:
- Skin rashes where the mask and straps touch the face and neck
- Throat and nasal irritations from the forced airflow, such as a sore throat or runny nose
- Sleep disturbances from the CPAP’s noisy motor
- Psychological effects such as feeling closed in, trapped or claustrophobic
If you or a loved one has tried using CPAP to treat sleep apnea or snoring and experienced one or more of these side effects, you will be happy to hear that there are several CPAP alternatives available.
Your CPAP Alternatives
The Snoring & Sleep Institute of Atlanta offers numerous alternatives to CPAP that can improve if not cure the underlying causes of your sleep apnea and snoring. After an evaluation with sleep specialist, Pradeep Sinha, M.D., he will be able to determine whether you are a candidate for alternative treatment options, including:
- Pillar Procedure: Sleep apnea or snoring may be due to the soft palate tissue being too flabby, thus closing off your airway when you sleep. With the Pillar Procedure, small tubular implants are placed inside the tissue of the soft palate. As the area heals, the tissue stiffens up, providing structure for the soft palate and preventing it from sagging into the airway. This is a minimally invasive procedure that can be performed right in the office. It only requires one visit and healing time is very fast.
- Base of Tongue Ablation: If your airway is being closed off because the back of your tongue is obstructing it, this procedure will shrink a targeted area at the base of the tongue, so tissue is reduced and more toned and there is a reduced chance that the tongue will collapse into the airway. The procedure uses radio frequency waves, so no tissue is removed or cut. As a result, the recovery time is quick.
- Turbinate Reduction: If snoring or sleep apnea is caused or exacerbated by enlarged turbinates in your nose, turbinate reduction may help. Turbinates line the sides of your nasal cavities and help with humidity regulation as you breathe. Like tongue ablation, turbinate reduction uses radio frequency waves to reduce the size of the nasal turbinates, opening up the passages to make breathing easier. This is a minimally invasive procedure and requires only a short healing period.
- Tonsillectomy: If enlarged tonsils are contributing to your snoring or sleep apnea, a tonsillectomy procedure may be recommended to permanently remove the tissue that’s causing airway obstruction. This procedure does require general anesthesia and is more invasive than other CPAP alternatives, however, the results are permanent and may considerably improve symptoms.
- Oral appliance therapy: This is a non-invasive and nonsurgical CPAP alternative for treating sleep apnea and snoring. Like CPAP, it requires the use of a device each night. But unlike the uncomfortable mask, oral appliance therapy involves the use of a custom-fitted mouth appliance, worn like a mouth guard. The device repositions the jaw and/or tongue, enlarging the airway and preventing obstruction.
Individualized Diagnosis & Treatment
Because the causes of sleep apnea and snoring are unique for each person – and you may have one or more potential causes – an evaluation from a sleep expert is essential for proper diagnosis and treatment. This will allow us to determine the underlying source(s) of your condition and tailor a therapy to fit your needs.
Break free from the mask by scheduling an appointment at Snoring & Sleep Institute of Atlanta today to learn about your CPAP alternatives. We look forward to helping you sleep better and live better!