CPAP is considered the “gold standard” of sleep apnea treatment. It uses mild air pressure to help keep your airway open during sleep and maintain air flow even if your breathing stops. CPAP is effective on all kinds of sleep apnea and is proven to relieve many of the associated health concerns. Unfortunately, it has several side effects that can make it hard for people to adapt to using it. As a result, many people use CPAP too infrequently or for too short a period of time to see the full benefit.
If you are looking for sleep apnea treatment and are interested in learning more about CPAP as well as CPAP alternatives, please call (201) 343-4044 or email the River Edge Dental Center for TMJ, Sleep Apnea, & Reconstructive Dentistry for an appointment with sleep dentist Dr. Marlen Martirossian.
CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) consists of an air mask, an air pump, and tubes that connect the two. The air pump forces air through the mask into your nose and/or mouth. This air pressure ensures that air is constantly flowing into your throat and lungs.
The air pressure from CPAP should be set high enough to ensure that your airway is supported and won’t collapse, even if your muscles relax when you sleep. The air pressure will also continue to supply air if your breathing stops as a result of central sleep apnea.
Benefits of CPAP
CPAP has many proven benefits for people with sleep apnea, including:
- Can eliminate sleep apnea
- Better sleep
- Reduces or eliminates sleep apnea dangers
- Treats all types of sleep apnea
When used properly, CPAP essentially eliminates sleep apnea. Because there is air constantly flowing into your lungs, you never experience a reduction in access to air. This makes for more restful sleep, without the waking episodes that characterize sleep apnea. As a result, all the health effects of sleep apnea can be eliminated or dramatically reduced.
Limitations of CPAP
Unfortunately, many people find CPAP an uncomfortable or undesirable sleep apnea treatment because of its limitations, such as:
- Feelings of claustrophobia, smothering, or choking
- Irritation in the nose or on the face from mask or straps
- Dry or irritated throat
- Restriction because of the air line
- Pump sounds
These aspects of CPAP often cause people to use it less often than they should. Some people stop using their CPAP altogether, which makes it ineffective. Other times, people may start out wearing their CPAP, but take it off in the middle of the night, limiting its effectiveness.
In addition to the discomfort of using CPAP, many people find it cumbersome for travel or just too much of a bulky interference in their bedroom, either taking up too much space on their bedside table or interfering with intimacy.
Another potential drawback of CPAP is that it can lead to the development or worsening of central sleep apnea in people with obstructive sleep apnea. This creates a dependence on CPAP, making it a lifetime treatment, even though they may have otherwise been able to, through exercise, weight loss, surgery, and other means, eliminate their obstructive sleep apnea for good.
Still, for many people CPAP is the best sleep apnea treatment option. If you want to learn whether this is the right treatment for you, please call (201) 343-4044 or email the River Edge Dental Center for TMJ, Sleep Apnea, & Reconstructive Dentistry.