After the results of your sleep study, the sentence was in: CPAP, every night, life sentence. At first, you might’ve felt relieved. Grateful, even. At some point, some geniuses invented a machine that helps you sleep better and could even save your life! What a great time to be alive, you might have thought at the time…
And then you brought the thing home, hooked yourself up, and revved it up. Maybe it wasn’t instant for you, but a day, a week, a month later, it dawned on you: You’re going to pour distilled water into this thing’s gaping maw, and listen to that rumbling, sucking sound, for years to come.
For many people with sleep apnea, a CPAP is the answer to all their sleepless nights. Obstructive sleep apnea is when the upper airway becomes narrow as the muscles relax during sleep. This is a natural occurrence, but it also reduces oxygen in the blood and causes arousal from sleep. The CPAP machine stops this annoying trouble by delivering a stream of compressed air using a hose to a nasal pillow, nose mask, full-face mask, or hybrid that keeps it open under air pressure so that unobstructed breathing becomes possible.
However, a CPAP machine can be uncomfortable and a tad cumbersome. Some people even complain about their tendency to be uncomfortable and cause skin irritation, and nose and throat problems. So, if you’re hating your CPAP device right now, don’t worry, you’re not alone. We hear from patients who tell us “I hate my CPAP” on a regular basis. In fact, 4 out of every 10 prescribed CPAP wearers don’t wear their CPAP device.
As you can see, CPAP doesn’t necessarily work for everyone. When you’re not wearing your CPAP, you’re also not treating your obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which poses several problems:
83% higher risk for drug-resistant hypertension
77% higher risk for obesity
76% higher risk for congestive heart failure
59% higher risk for diabetes
76% higher risk for coronary artery disease
The CPAP is, of course, a safe, tried-and-true solution to sleep apnea. But frankly, it’s a one-size-fits-all solution. Another less intrusive solution is an oral appliance. Sheboygan dentist Dr. John Korolewski can fit you for a custom mouth guard that provides the correct adjustments to jaw and tongue position that many sleep apnea patients need to sleep safely and healthily.
If you’ve been using a CPAP machine, you already have had a sleep test, which you need for a prescription for oral devices. Your next step would be to talk to your physician about not being able to use your CPAP machine and let them know about oral appliances. Then call Dr. Korolewski, and we can help you explore if oral appliances are an options for you.
Remember, the most important factor in controlling OSA is actually using a device – preferably one that works for you and your bed partner.