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CPAP Alternates: What Happens When You Can’t Tolerate A Machine To Treat Sleep Apnea?
12/13/2022

Did you know that sleep apnea is 80% undiagnosed? That means that most people with sleep apnea don’t know they have it or have a suspicion that they do but haven’t been tested. That’s a scary thought because non-diagnosis means non-treatment. And when you go without sleep apnea treatment, you succumb to sleep apnea’s symptoms and put yourself at risk for other conditions that can arise due to sleep apnea.

man looking at his cpap equipment

One of the reasons that people choose not to get a sleep test is because they’re worried about what the outcome of that test may be. More specifically, they’re concerned about being prescribed a CPAP machine. If that’s you, know that living with untreated sleep apnea isn’t worth it, whether you need a CPAP machine or not. However, many people have other sleep treatment options that don’t involve a machine or mask. If you’re someone who suspects you have sleep apnea and are experiencing symptoms, make it your mission to find the sleep apnea treatment that works for you. 

If you need a sleep test to determine if you have sleep apnea, which type, and its severity, order a home sleep study online.

Pitfalls of a CPAP Machine

It’s no surprise that some people are afraid to get a sleep study for fear of being prescribed a CPAP. They can be cumbersome, uncomfortable, and too noisy for some people. In some cases, CPAP is your best treatment option. For those with central or complex sleep apnea, you’ll need a CPAP to get a great night’s sleep. If you have severe obstructive sleep apnea, CPAP is your best option. But if you have mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea, you can use CPAP alternatives. 

CPAP is nearly 100% effective at treating all types of sleep apnea as long as you use it. But the truth is that the compliance rate is only about 40%, making it ineffective. People have these complaints. 

  • Noise: CPAP is a reasonably quiet machine, but if you or your partner are people who need silence to sleep, it’ll be tough to fall asleep to the noise. 
  • Comfort: There are many CPAP mask options, but you’ll still need to wear a mask that patients can find uncomfortable. 
  • Bloating: Is your stomach sensitive? CPAP pushes a continuous flow of air into your lungs, but some might squeak into your stomach and cause bloating and stomach pain. 
  • Dry mouth: Since CPAP pushes air through your mouth, your salivary glands may be unable to keep up. This can leave your mouth dry. You may also experience bad breath and cracked lips. 
  • Difficult travel: CPAP is notoriously difficult to travel with unless you have a smaller travel CPAP. You don’t need to worry about trying to fit it in your carry-on since it’s a medical device, but you’ll still need to carry it with you. Do you have a long overnight flight? You should use it each time you sleep, including on the plane, which isn’t possible unless you have a battery.
  • Remote destinations: CPAP needs electricity and distilled water to work. This can make traveling to other countries or camping trips very difficult. 
  • Cleaning: You’ll need to clean your CPAP after each use to ensure you don’t get sick. This can be time-consuming since there are a lot of parts to clean. 

CPAP Alternative: Oral Appliance Therapy

There is good news for people with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea; you can use a CPAP alternative called oral appliance therapy. This is a small, sleek orthotic you wear in your mouth each time you sleep. It looks like a mouthguard, but it serves an entirely different purpose. A mouthguard protects your teeth; an oral appliance positions your jaw slightly forward to make more room in your airway. That way, when your tongue falls back to obstruct your airway while sleeping, you’ll still have enough room for oxygen to pass freely. 

Many who have used an oral appliance find it comfortable and convenient. You can wear it discretely anywhere, requiring nothing extra to work.

Do you have a CPAP and are unable to tolerate it? Switch to oral appliance therapy. If you have severe obstructive sleep apnea and need your CPAP, you can use an oral appliance as a stand-in treatment when traveling or camping. 

CPAP Alternative: Sleep Apnea Surgery 

Another alternative to CPAP is sleep apnea surgery. You’ll need to talk with your sleep doctor about whether surgery is right for you. There are many types of sleep apnea surgery, ranging from implanted medical devices to removing excess airway tissues. 
Which Sleep Treatment is Best for You?
How do you know which sleep treatment is best for you? Talk to your sleep doctor about alternative options if you struggle to tolerate a CPAP machine. Chances are, you can use a different treatment that better fits your lifestyle. 

If you are unsure if you have sleep apnea, order a home sleep test from sleeptest.com.

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