What To Do When You Can’t Tolerate Your CPAP Machine

By: Restore TMJ & Sleep Therapy | Published 08/20/2019

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Using a CPAP machine is one of the most effective ways to treat sleep apnea. Unfortunately, many people struggle adjusting to CPAP machines. Studies estimate that between 30-50 percent of CPAP users don’t like using their machines and that roughly half of users actually stop using their machine within just 3 weeks. Sleep apnea is a serious condition, however, that must be treated. Fortunately, there are alternative sleep apnea treatments.
What is a CPAP Machine?
CPAP stands for “Continuous Positive Air Pressure.” Someone who uses a CPAP machine will set up the machine next to his or her bed. Before going to sleep, patients place a mask over their nose, their mouth, or both that is connected to the machine by a hose.

The CPAP will take air from the room, compress it to the level prescribed by your sleep specialist and then push it through the hose connected to your mask and down your throat. This will create a cushion of air and thus preventing the airway from collapsing.

Why Some People Are Intolerant To CPAP
CPAP machines are quite effective at keeping your throat from collapsing. Unfortunately, over half (52%) of CPAP users have compliance issues and can’t tolerate or be effectively treated by a CPAP machine.

Some common reasons CPAP machines are ineffective:

The mouth or nose piece doesn’t fit tightly to their face leading to air leaks.
Straps and mask causes skin irritation and pressure sores.
The patient feels uncomfortable and can't fall asleep with apparatus on.
Mouth breathing renders nose CPAP machines ineffective.
Patients can’t adjust to positive air pressure.
Some patients swallow air, a condition called aerophagia.
Humidity issues lead to dry throat or nose.
Noise keeps you or a loved one awake.
As you can see, there are many reasons people struggle to use CPAP machines. This helps explain why so many people ultimately reject them and why alternative sleep apnea treatments may be in order.

In some cases, the CPAP machine can be adjusted. Someone who breathes through their mouth can use a mouthpiece. Or in the case of leakage, a CPAP mask can be custom fitted to the patient, creating a tighter seal or a nasal pillow mask may be used.

Even so, many patients will still reject a CPAP machine. However, this doesn’t mean that they simply have to live with sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a serious condition that can lead many chronic health issues and needs to be treated.

Fortunately, there are other options to treat sleep apnea. As a dentist who is board certified by The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, Dr. Phillips has spent the last 12 years helping patients with those options.

Are There Alternatives to CPAP Machines?
Yes! If you or a loved one are struggling with sleep apnea and/or loud snoring but cannot tolerate a CPAP machine, Dr. Phillips can devise other treatment regimens.

Less intrusive oral appliances, known as Mandibular Advancement Devices, often prove effective at treating sleep apnea. With no masks, straps, hoses, or forced air, oral appliances are easier to use and more readily adopted by most patients, and their bed partners.

Mandibular advancement devices attach to your teeth and slightly move the lower jaw forward. This pulls the tongue forward making the airway space between your mouth and throat larger and keeps the airway open while wearing the device throughout the night.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine both recommend oral appliances as a first line treatment in the case of mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. Even in the case of severe sleep apnea, where a patient cannot tolerate the use of a CPAP machine, there could be significant benefit from an oral appliance when compared to no treatment at all. There is also the possibility of combining the use of an oral appliance with CPAP therapy that can allow the patient to lower their air pressure to a tolerable level.

There is no “one size fits all” solution when it comes choosing an oral appliance or the different ways to treat sleep apnea with them. There are many different types of oral appliances and patient specific conditions that need to be taken into account for successful treatment.   Oral appliance therapy is a customized solution and one of most important considerations when seeking treatment is the skill of the provider. Dr. Phillips has that experience, from simple to the most complex cases, and has helped over 5000 people successfully treat their sleep apnea with oral appliance therapy.

Conclusion: There Are CPAP Alternatives
Sleep apnea is a serious condition and unfortunately many people do not respond to CPAP machines. Fortunately, oral appliance therapy in the hands of an experienced provider can be used to help alleviate your condition. If you or a loved one is suffering from sleep apnea, and are not able to tolerate CPAP Therapy, you should talk to a specialist.

Looking for more information or an alternative to your CPAP machine in Houston, get in touch with Dr. Phillips!

By Dr. Katherine Phillips, DDS

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