This mask that blows open the airway has helped many people get a good night’s sleep.
CPAP was developed in 1980 and has saved the lives and quality of lives of thousands of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) sufferers. It uses a machine that blows air through a hose into a mask worn by the patient. This positive air pressure literally inflates the closed airway like a balloon and allows breathing to continue uninterrupted during sleep.
Disadvantages of CPAP
While CPAP has been a true blessing for untold thousands of patients, it may cause difficulties for many others:
- The sound of air blowing from the machine through the mask can irritate many people, disturbing their sleep.
- The mask may be very hard to fit, causing pressure sores on the face over time.
- Sleeping with a mask over the face can be difficult.
- Air leaking between the mask and face can disturb sleep.
- The presence of CPAP can be a barrier to intimacy.
- CPAP requires continual cleaning of hoses and filters.
- Traveling with CPAP can be cumbersome with airline regulations for carry-on luggage.
- These problems cause up to 50 percent of CPAP users to abandon treatment.
Unfortunately patients suffering from OSA are almost always prescribed CPAP without being given the choice of choosing oral appliance therapy. Those OSA sufferers needlessly continue to live lives of diminished quality. A significant percentage of CPAP patients only use it “part-time”. In fact, the standard compliance is for these patients to use this therapy four hours a night for five nights per week. This means that for the other four hours per night and two whole nights per week these patients still have sleep apnea! During this unmanaged time, they are suffering from the cardiovascular and other effects of their disorder.
Oral appliances as an alternative
Keep in mind that for those patients with very severe sleep apnea, an oral appliance by itself may not be enough to provide the assistance needed. For those patients who cannot tolerate CPAP and who cannot be helped enough with an oral appliance alone, combination therapy can be extremely effective.
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