Alternative Treatments to CPAP in Bowie, MD

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

Also referred to as OSA, obstructive sleep apnea is a relatively common condition. It affects as many as 22 million Americans, although only around 20% of sufferers with moderate to severe OSA actually get diagnosed. Patients with OSA find that their breathing becomes interrupted while they sleep, due to the soft tissues within the throat collapsing and obstructing their airway.

This can cause the sufferer to stop breathing for a few moments at regular intervals during the night. People with OSA tend to have poor quality of sleep, and the condition can also impact on their personal relationships as the symptoms can impact anyone who sleeps in the same room as them. At Bowie Dental Sleep Center we offer a variety of treatments for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

What are CPAP machines?

CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure and CPAP machines are one of the most common, non-surgical treatments for moderate to severe OSA. They work by delivering a constant positive pressure of oxygen into the patient’s lungs, which forces the airway to remain open. While it is an effective solution, many patients find that the delivery method – a mask that is placed over the nose or mouth while you sleep – is uncomfortable and restrictive. Others have found that the treatment interferes with their personal relationships, or is embarrassing to wear. Many patients also find it difficult to tolerate the constant pressure delivered by the machine, especially while they are trying to exhale. Whatever the reason, although CPAP is considered to be the go-to treatment for OSA, for many patients it is simply not the right solution.

The importance of treatment compliance for insurance

Most sleep apnea treatments that are covered by insurance need to be monitored to ensure treatment compliance. However, if a patient is unhappy with their treatment choice they are less likely to continue to use it effectively. Not only will this increase the symptoms seen in patients, but it could also land you with an expensive bill if your insurance company decides that you are failing to meet the compliance guidelines.

Thankfully, there are some effective alternatives to CPAP available.

BiPAP Machines

BiPAP stands for Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure, and this machine provides two different pressures that can be tailored to your preference, with one pressure for inhalation and one for exhalation. Many patients find the adaptability of the BiPAP machine much more tolerable, allowing for a more restful sleep.

APAP/AutoPAP

Again similar to CPAP, APAP stands for Automatic Positive Airway Pressure. However, instead of delivering the same amount of positive pressure continuously, the APAP machine delivers pressure that adjusts based on the patients’ needs using “smart” technology. With much less to adjust, the APAP is a good alternative for patients who find they struggle to tolerate the constant positive pressure of a regular CPAP machine.

Oral Appliance Therapy using Mandibular Advancement Devices (MADs)

If it is the entire concept of being attached to a machine at night that makes CPAP an unsuitable solution, then you may wish to consider a mandibular advancement device. These are worn at night and resemble a mouth guard. They work by holding the lower jaw and tongue slightly forward, which creates a larger space at the back of the airway, so that it doesn’t become entirely blocked. MADs are sometimes used as a cure for snoring, as well as in patients with sleep apnea. (That said, snoring is a key symptom of OSA).

Although oral appliance therapy still involves wearing a device, many patients quickly adapt to wearing MADs and find them far less intrusive than CPAP machines. There are a range of MADs available, and we would be happy to help give you a recommendation based on your personal requirements.

Positional Therapy

Many patients with OSA find that their symptoms are much worse when they sleep on their back. Ordinarily, when we are asleep we cannot control which position we sleep in. However, positional therapy is a strategy which trains people to sleep in the best position to alleviate the symptoms of their OSA. Special devices can be used, which sit around your waist and keep you on your side which should help to keep your airway clear.

Sleep Apnea Surgery

In cases where a patient experiences severe OSA and either cannot tolerate other treatments or they have been unsuccessful, surgical intervention may be the only viable option to alleviate their symptoms.

There are a number of different surgery options available, but the main aim of all of them is to reduce or completely eliminate the soft tissue that blocks your airway when you sleep. This could involve surgery on your tongue, tonsils and adenoids, soft palate and uvula and even your jaw bone. Your surgeon will talk through the surgical solutions that could help you, and you will decide together which is the right one to treat your OSA.

Surgery always carries some element of risk, and your surgeon will be happy to talk through these with you at your consultation appointment.

If you are suffering from obstructive sleep apnea and are seeking an alternative treatment to CPAP, then any one of the therapies suggested here could be the solution you are looking for. We would be happy to discuss your options with you. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Ludka today and take the first step toward a better night’s sleep.