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What are Some of the CPAP Alternatives?

Many individuals suffering from sleep apnea quickly start looking for CPAP alternatives soon after being told that they will need to sleep with the help of this sometimes noisy machine for the rest of their lives. When it comes to treating obstructive sleep apnea, CPAP is really the only effective treatment option for people with moderate to severe forms of this common sleeping disorder.

However, the problem is that many people who have been prescribed CPAP to help them breathe properly throughout the night quickly end up giving up on using their machine, forcing them to look for CPAP alternatives.

CPAP is thought to effectively treat obstructive sleep apnea in nearly 100 percent of patients, which may leave you wondering why the term CPAP failure even exists. However, while it is true that CPAP is almost always effective, the fact remains that a large percentage of people who've been prescribed one of these machines quickly discontinue using it due to a wide variety of different factors.

It has been estimated that nearly 60 percent of CPAP users fail to actually use their machine every night as they should. The reasons for this failure are quite varied, but they are usually a result of the fact that the CPAP mask and hoses can be quite uncomfortable to wear and make it much more difficult for many users to fall asleep. 

Other patients report that the mask makes them feel claustrophobic; leads to itchy skin, rashes, and other skin irritations; causes them to wake up with an exceptionally dry mouth, nose or throat or other nasal and respiratory problems; and even increases the occurrence of nightmares.

In addition, many people use a mask that doesn't fit properly or keeps slipping off during the night. For all of these reasons and more, many people simply give up using their machine and begin looking for CPAP substitutes.

Most Common CPAP Alternatives

Although CPAP is generally considered to be the only truly effective treatment for patients with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea, the truth is that you may still have other options, although they may not be quite as effective depending on the severity of your condition and the underlying causes of it.


cpap alternativesFor people whose sleep apnea is related to obstructions of the throat caused by the soft palate tissue in the mouth collapsing and blocking the airway, you may be able to find relief through the use of a custom made oral appliance or snoring mouthpiece. These oral appliances usually need to be specially made by a dentist so that they perfectly fit your mouth and prevent the tissue from obstructing your airway.

The most common type of oral appliance used in treating sleep apnea is as a mandibular advancement device, which forces the lower jaw slightly forward and allows the airway to remain open. 

While it is recommended that you get this device custom made by your dentist, many patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea have had success simply using an over the counter mouth guard, such as those used during sports or for treating bruxism (teeth grinding).

There are also tongue restraining oral appliances, designed for people whose airway obstructions are directly related to their tongue falling back into the throat during sleep. These devices keep the tongue in place, ensuring it cannot collapse back into the throat. While it may take some time to get used to sleeping with an oral appliance, most patients who have tried both these devices and CPAP report that it takes much less time to get used to the oral appliance and feel it is generally much more comfortable than CPAP.

cpap alternativesAnother of the more common CPAP substitutes are known as nasal dilators. These devices are designed for people whose sleep apnea is related to a collapsing of their nostrils while breathing in. Nasal dilators are small silicone or plastic plugs that fit directly into each nostril, with a clip in between the two that goes over the end of the nose to keep the device in place.

Nasal dilators have been proven to be quite effective at treating patients with mild to severe sleep apnea related to obstructions of the nasal passages. By choosing a high quality nasal dilator made of soft, medical grade silicon, you should be able to get used to sleeping with the device within a few nights, and will definitely find it more comfortable and much less intrusive than CPAP.

CPAP Alternatives for Positional Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Approximately one quarter of sleep apnea sufferers only experience breathing problems when sleeping in a certain position, usually on their backs. This condition is known as positional sleep apnea, and can often be treated without the need for CPAP by simply ensuring that the individual is unable to sleep on their back.

There are many specially designed pillows that can help a person to remain on their stomach or side while sleeping, which can definitely be helpful in treating positional sleep apnea. However, by far the easiest way to ensure you are unable to sleep on your back is to simply sew a tennis ball into the back of your shirt, which will make it too uncomfortable to sleep on your back for any length of time. Either one of these methods can be quite effective CPAP substitutes. 

Surgical CPAP Alternatives

cpap alternativesFinally, if none of the other CPAP substitutes have worked for you, your final option may be to undergo surgery to attempt to correct the underlying causes of your sleep apnea. The most common type of surgery is known as uvulopalatopharyngoplasty or UPPP, which involves surgically removing some of the soft tissue in the mouth responsible for the airway obstructions.

Still, there are other surgical alternatives to CPAP as well, depending on what the underlying sleep apnea causes are. Some sleep apnea is related to a deviated nasal septum, which restricts the person's ability to breathe properly through their nostrils, and can often be corrected through a fairly simple surgery.

No matter which alternatives to CPAP you decide to try, you still need to be aware of the fact that none of them may work for you, leaving you with no choice but to try again to get used to using your CPAP machine.

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