There must be something better than having to wear a CPAP mask to treat my sleep apnea?
As you probably know, untreated sleep apnea can have serious negative health consequences. The fact that you are taking the time to read this article means you are probably serious about treating your or your loved one’s sleep apnea. That, itself, can be the hardest step.
Although there are other treatment options, CPAP should always be the first treatment option for adult obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Reason #1: CPAP is Highly Effective
Treatment with CPAP is highly effective when used properly. Nearly all patients on CPAP machines can effectively eliminate their sleep apnea and snoring with proper and continued use of their CPAP supplies. Additionally, regardless of the severity of a person’s sleep apnea, CPAP remains highly effective.
Reason #2: CPAP Poses Minimal to No Risk
When used properly, there is minimal to no risk in using CPAP. All other treatment options other than weight loss can pose risks that need to be taken into consideration.
For example, treatment with an oral appliance can lead to jaw joint problems. All surgery comes with the potential for complications. If there are adverse reactions to CPAP they are generally minor, such as dry mouth or excessive belching. These are generally resolved with some minor treatment adjustments.
Reason #3: CPAP Treats it All
Unlike other treatments, CPAP treats all areas of blockage/obstruction. Why is this so important? Because 80% of patients with sleep apnea have it because of narrowing of the upper airway at multiple locations. So treatment with surgery generally means multiple surgeries, many of which carry significant recovery and risks. Oral appliances (mouthpieces) only affect one area of the upper airway. And, unfortunately, weight loss is rarely achieved or maintained.
Reason #4: CPAP Can Adapt
Your sleep apnea will often change with age. CPAP can change with you. If you lose or gain weight, the severity of your sleep apnea will change. Or if you develop allergies and nasal congestion, your ability to breathe through your nose will change. Your CPAP therapy can be adjusted to account for such changes. This is generally not possible with other treatment options.
For example, if you have surgery to remove your tonsils your sleep apnea may improve. But, if you then gain weight you may develop sleep apnea again and end up on CPAP anyhow. The flip side to this is if you lose weight you might be able to stop using your CPAP. You cannot generally reverse surgery.
These are just a few of the reasons why, in practice, I almost always recommend CPAP as the first choice to treat sleep apnea. Other treatment options have their place in certain instances, but never as a first choice and they are rarely appropriate at all in the majority of sleep apnea patients.
In my experience, the majority of patients are very reluctant to start CPAP. Fortunately, about 90% of these same patients end up getting to the point where they not only tolerate their CPAP machine, but it eventually becomes second nature and they cannot sleep without it. Motivation and practice are the key! Find out how the sleep apnea experts at cpapRX can help.
Dr. Yaish is the type of doctor that other doctors send patients to. He’s what’s called a “specialist” and his specialty is sleep medicine. He has years of specialized training, is Board Certified in Sleep Medicine and is a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.