One of the most popular treatments for snoring and sleep apnea is CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure. The machine helps you breathe during sleep by increasing the air pressure in your throat, which keeps your airway open. This stops you from snoring when your airway is partially blocked and from ceasing breathing completely when your airway is entirely blocked.
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A CPAP machine has a mask that you place over your nose that blows air into your airway. While some people have great success with a CPAP, other people just can’t adjust to it and need to look for alternatives to CPAP machines.
There are a few different mask types, so if you found one to be uncomfortable, you may have better luck with another type.
The full face mask covers both your nose and your mouth, which allows the machine to create a higher pressure and lets you breathe through your mouth. The nasal mask only covers your nose, so it’s less bulky than the full face mask and lets you move around more in your sleep. The nasal prong masks, which just cover your nostrils, are the smallest and most lightweight, but they usually aren’t strong enough to treat severe snoring or sleep apnea.
Although CPAP is usually a very effective treatment, the mask can be uncomfortable. If you feel claustrophobic easily or are used to sleeping on your stomach, a CPAP might make it more difficult to sleep. Some people with sensitive skin experience breakouts or irritation from the mask’s straps. If you don’t use the CPAP every night, it won’t be an effective treatment. Therefore, it’s much better to find an alternative than to struggle with the CPAP.
Fortunately, there are lots of other snoring and sleep apnea solutions available, including machines, oral devices, and lifestyle changes. Here are some of the best alternatives to CPAP machines.
A CPAP humidifier isn’t exactly an alternative, but it’s an accessory to a CPAP machine that could make it much more comfortable. Many people dislike the CPAP because the constant airflow dries out their mouth, throat, or nasal passages. Humidifiers add some moisture to the air, which reduces irritation. Cool passover humidifiers use room temperature air and water, and heated humidifiers warm up the air and water.
If you’re overweight or obese, losing weight may be the best way to treat snoring or sleep apnea. The extra weight on your neck and throat could be the reason your airway collapses as you sleep, and even losing just 10 or 15 pounds could make a big difference. Losing weight will bring about a number of other health benefits, and it doesn’t require you to make any changes to your sleeping habits or use any uncomfortable devices.
Eating a healthy diet, drinking lots of water, and avoiding snacking or mindless eating are all important for weight loss. Exercise is a great way to lose weight, too, and it improves the quality of your sleep.
If you have a severe snoring problem that other treatment options just can’t fix, oral surgery could be a good permanent solution. There are a few different oral surgeries that can treat snoring and sleep apnea depending on the cause of the problem. Surgery is usually a last resort after you and your doctor have tried all of the easier treatments.
A uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, or UPPP, removes tissue from the soft palate, uvula, or tonsils to open up the airway. A hyoid suspension stabilizes the muscles and soft tissue around the tongue and throat and is usually the best option when snoring is caused by the tongue collapsing over the airway. A maxillomandibular advancement, or MMA, moves the jaw forward to create more space in the airway. If your snoring is caused by nasal obstruction, nasal surgery might be effective. A balloon sinuplasty surgery opens up blocked sinuses by inserting, inflating, and removing a small balloon. Functional endoscopic sinus surgery opens the sinuses by removing bone or tissue near the passages.
Mandibular Advancement Devices
Mandibular advancement devices are oral devices that treat snoring and mild sleep apnea. They move your lower jaw forward slightly, which prevents your airway from collapsing. Over time, using this device can also strengthen the muscles in your mouth and throat, which will make them more rigid and less likely to collapse.
Mandibular advancement devices might feel strange or uncomfortable at first, but once you adjust, they should feel fine. They usually last between one and two years before needing to be replaced. They’re easily portable, and you can sleep in any position and breathe through your mouth or nose. One popular brand is VitalSleep, whose devices can be custom fitted by immersing them in hot water and molding them to your teeth. You can also adjust the device in small increments until you find the best position.
Tongue Stabilizing Devices
Like mandibular advancement devices, tongue stabilizing devices stop snoring and sleep apnea by pulling the lower jaw forward and opening up the airway. However, these devices only attach to the tongue. A tongue stabilizing device is a small piece of plastic that attaches to your tongue with suction and pulls it slightly forward. One good example would be the Good Morning Snore Solution.
These devices usually last a year before needing to be replaced. They may be a better option than a mandibular advancement device for people who wear dentures or don’t like feeling pressure on their teeth. They also don’t need to be specially fitted to your mouth. You have to breathe through your nose while you wear it, though.
Depending on the cause of your snoring or sleep apnea, you might have to try a few of these alternatives to CPAP machines before you find the one that’s right for you. Snoring and sleep apnea can be serious issues that lead to other health problems, so it’s important to find an effective treatment. Luckily, there are such a wide variety of treatments available that everyone can find one that works and is comfortable for them.