Alternative Sleep Apnea Treatments That Don’t Use CPAP
At the moment, if you’re a patient with sleep apnea, there aren’t all that many options from which to choose, and most of the ones that do have an annoying and uncomfortable face mask involved. However, a number of major developments in alternative medicines and treatments are progressing toward a wide range of new options from which patients will soon be able to choose. Not one of them requires the use of the mask.
Many patients who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea experience a relaxation of the tongue and soft palate, easing them back into the airway and closing it off. This leads the oxygen levels in the blood to drop, momentarily jolting the sleeper awake. This is known as partial arousal, at which point the breathing is restored. Every hour that a person is asleep, this can occur dozens of times.
By far, the most common treatment prescribed for sleep apnea patients – that is, individuals who stop breathing during their sleep – is CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure). When using CPAP, sleep apnea patients wear a face mask attached to a bedside pump with a hose while they sleep. They breathe through this pressurized air mask. Though it has shown to be extremely effective, studies have estimated that thirty percent or more of patients who are directed to use CPAP by their doctors will either not use the mask or will not use it properly. Some patients can’t sleep because they feel that the masks are uncomfortable, while others feel that the device is too noisy and it keeps them awake.
For this reason, alternative sleep apnea treatment options have been sought by many researchers and companies. Among the recent CPAP alternatives that have made their way into the spotlight are the Inspire device, the Winx system, and Provent. Some doctors feel that those new options are so effective that they will soon be seen not as alternatives to CPAP, but replacements. That said, the studies that have been conducted until now have not directly compared them with CPAP, and have shown that these devices are promising, but aren’t rating as highly.
Many of the alternative sleep apnea devices have started to receive FDA approval and are making their way into the market, particularly among individuals whose sleep apnea is not extreme. At the same time, doctors have pointed out that the CPAP technology has improved considerably over the last few years, allowing for quieter motors, hydrated air, and smaller and more comfortable masks.