If you’ve been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, you are likely familiar with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) as a treatment option. Typically the first line of treatment for sleep apnea, CPAP has long been used to improve breathing function during sleep. For some, this treatment option is the best option. However, the majority of patients prescribed CPAP do not use the device as prescribed, leaving them exposed to numerous health risks associated with sleep apnea. While CPAP has long been the gold standard in sleep apnea treatment, it is no longer the only mainstream option.
In this blog, the snoring specialists at the Atlanta Snoring Institute will provide an overview of some common complaints about CPAP and describe several of the alternative treatment options available beyond the mask.
Common Complaints About CPAP
For some users, CPAP is a great treatment option. However, if you have been prescribed CPAP and are non-compliant or intolerant, you are not alone. Many patients report having trouble using CPAP as directed, citing numerous unpleasant side effects of using the mask, including:
- Skin irritation on face
- Feelings of suffocation
- Waking with a scratchy throat or dry mouth
Other complaints about CPAP relate to the bulky nature of the device, which can make it challenging to travel with. Additionally, the device’s operating sounds may disrupt the sleep of bed partners or those within close sleeping range.
For all of these reasons, it may come as no surprise that there are quite a few CPAP users who end up not complying with treatment. As a result, the snoring continues, along with the health problems that snoring and sleep apnea can create. Fortunately, there are other options available to treat sleep apnea without CPAP.
The First Step to Breaking Free From the Mask
Snoring and sleep apnea can be caused by many different factors and no singular treatment is ideal for every individual. Before getting treated, it is necessary to see an otolaryngologist who specializes in diagnosing and treating snoring and sleep apnea in order to be evaluated. A physician who is double board-certified in otolaryngology and sleep medicine is ideal. Once the cause of your problem has been pinpointed, your doctor will be able to determine which treatment(s) will best suit your needs.
Ways to Treat Sleep Apnea Without CPAP
Treating sleep apnea without CPAP can take many forms, from non-invasive treatments to minimally invasive procedures or even surgery. Many options are one-time treatments performed using advanced technology that will enable you to return to normal activities within 24 hours. Here’s an overview of some of the most popular CPAP alternative therapies offered at the Atlanta Snoring Institute.
Oral Appliance Therapy
If the problem causing your snoring is a large tongue, weak tongue muscles or a narrow airway, you may be fitted for a customized oral appliance. This flexible device is either molded to your mouth or created from dental impressions and worn as you sleep to enlarge the airway and stabilize the tongue. Like CPAP, it is a non-surgical treatment option.
Base of Tongue Reduction
Some people have excess bulk or poor tone at the base of their tongue. This increases the likelihood that the airway will become partially or completely blocked during sleep. With the use of a local anesthetic and targeted radio waves, a large tongue base can be reduced in size and made more stable, effectively enlarging your airway. This is performed as a series of treatments in the office and patients can return to work or normal activities the same day.
Turbinates within your nose can be larger than necessary for their purpose of regulating and filtering the air you breathe. When the turbinates are excessively enlarged, they can be a significant source of nasal obstruction that affects nighttime breathing. Turbinate reduction can be performed in the office via the application of targeted radio frequency energy to shrink blood vessels within the turbinates and thus the size of these structures. This can make it dramatically easier to breathe through your nose. The turbinates can also be reduced by several other techniques during outpatient surgery.
Soft Palate Coblation
Your soft palate may contain excess tissue that can partially or completely cover your airway as you sleep. Using radio frequency technology, a series of tunnels can be made in your soft palate. As the tunnels heal, scar tissue forms and helps stabilize your palate, preventing it from obstructing your airway.
This office procedure is another alternative for floppy soft palate tissue. In this procedure, small woven suture implants are gently inserted into the soft tissue of the palate. Over three months, the tissue surrounding the implants becomes firmer, reducing the intensity of snoring vibrations and the likelihood of soft palate airway obstruction.
Inflammation of your tonsils is not only painful, but it can also be a cause of snoring. Enlarged tonsils can prevent air from reaching your airway. Rather than remove the tonsils completely, radio waves can be used in the office to gently reduce the size of the tonsils in a tonsillar reduction procedure.
All of these treatments are minimally invasive in nature and can be performed from the comfort and convenience of the doctor’s office with quick recovery and minimal downtime. But these treatments are just a few of the options that the Atlanta Snoring Institute provides to treat sleep apnea without CPAP. To learn more about all of our treatment options, visit our treatments page.
Get Started With Our CPAP Alternatives in Atlanta
Whatever the cause of your snoring or sleep apnea, the Atlanta Snoring Institute can help you sleep soundly with safe, effective and customized treatments. Most patients are excellent candidates to treat sleep apnea without CPAP using one of our alternative treatment options. Take the first step toward peaceful and restorative sleep by filling out the schedule appointment form right on this page or by contacting us today for your evaluation.