Many patients who use Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy to treat their obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) often wonder what other alternatives exist to treat the disease. You might be surprised to find out that there are a variety of treatments available, spanning the spectrum from invasive to completely non-invasive. Each type of treatment and therapy has its own pros and cons, and the best type of therapy often depends on the patient’s individual needs and preferences.
Chances are, if you find yourself on this blog, you are pretty familiar with Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy to treat obstructive sleep apnea. Pressurized air is delivered through the patient’s mouth to their airway passages from an external machine. Tubing connects the machine and the wearable mask, and the patient has assistance in the form of pressurized air to push through any blockages that may develop in the airway passages, also known as a hypopnea. Pros include the non-invasive method of therapy and proven benefits of long term use, but often patients have trouble successfully adopting their new treatment into their lifestyle on a permanent basis.
A popular trend in the obstructive sleep apnea world is to recommend Oral Appliances for treatment instead of traditional CPAP therapy. The oral appliance functions similarly to a mouth guard and patients undergo a fitting process to ensure an optimal fit. The oral appliance manually slides the jaw forward, and removes any blockages or hypopneas that occur due to obstructive sleep apnea. Pros include the lifetime affordability of the treatment and the non-invasive nature of delivery, but they are said to potentially cause permanent jaw damage among long time users.
The most extreme of the various treatment options, surgery is mostly reserved for patients who can’t use either CPAP therapy or an Oral Appliance due to previously existing medical conditions. The surgery to correct Obstructive Sleep Apnea can take several forms, but the main goal is to remove tissue at the back of the throat. Technically named, “uvulopalatopharyngoplasty” (UPPP), the surgery seeks to widen the airway passage, deter some muscle action to improve the openness of the throat, and promote movement of the soft palate. Benefits of this procedure include a higher rate of certainty of success, but it is often costly and incredibly invasive, requiring many doctor visits. Even then, the surgery’s success is not guaranteed and many patients need to return to CPAP therapy in order to continue treatment.
Of course, the above outline is not an exhaustive resource, but hopefully you now have a better understanding of how to benefit the most from your CPAP therapy and get the best night’s sleep possible. It is best to speak with your doctor to determine what is best for your individual needs and therapy requirements.