For many who have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is the go-to therapy option. For those who feel comfortable using a CPAP machine, the treatment is quite effective. Unfortunately, not everyone can tolerate CPAP machines; up to 86% of CPAP patients are non-compliant with treatment. For this reason, many patients seek out sleep apnea mask alternatives and other approaches for treatment and management of sleep apnea.
While CPAP therapy is still the recommended treatment for a vast majority of sleep apnea patients, it’s certainly not the only option. The good news is, recent research and technological advances have led to new treatment alternatives. Many of these therapies are minimally invasive and offer long-term and even permanent solutions for sleep apnea sufferers.
If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, here are 6 CPAP alternatives that will actually make your life better.
1. Oral Appliances
Oral appliance therapy (OAT) is one, non-invasive option. OAT prevents the collapse of the tongue and soft tissues in the back of the throat by keeping the jaw supported in a forward position. This keeps the airway open during sleep. This therapy option is recommended for certain patients with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea.
2. Balloon Sinuplasty
This minimally invasive procedure opens blocked sinus cavities and relieves the pain and pressure of chronic sinusitis. For sleep apnea related to chronic inflammation of the sinus lining, balloon sinuplasty can quickly restore nasal drainage and function, leading to a better night’s sleep. This procedure is completed in less than 30 minutes using local anesthesia, and most patients can resume normal activities within a day.
3. Palate Coblation®
Palate Coblation is a minimally invasive treatment that utilizes radio frequency energy to stiffen the soft palate to relieve the symptoms of snoring and sleep apnea. Using local anesthesia, this procedure is generally completed in less than 30 minutes. Patients can resume a normal diet and activities the same day and most experience a significant decrease in snoring intensity within weeks of having the procedure.
4. Laser-Assisted Uvulopalatoplasty
Laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP) is another minimally-invasive treatment for sleep apnea. This procedure shrinks an enlarged or elongated uvula using laser technology. By opening up the airway, relief is provided from the symptoms of sleep apnea. The procedure takes around 30 minutes and provides results with less discomfort than traditional uvula removal surgery.
5. Laser-Assisted Tonsil Ablation
This procedure reduces the size of the tonsils using laser technology, rather than surgery. By opening the airway, relief is provided for the symptoms of sleep apnea. Using local anesthesia, laser-assisted tonsil ablation takes less than 30 minutes. This highly effective treatment option causes very little discomfort and most patients can resume normal diet and activity the next day. The procedure can be performed multiple times if needed.
6. Radiofrequency Ablation of the Tongue
Radiofrequency ablation of the tongue is a treatment option that utilizes radiofrequency energy to tighten and shrink the base of the tongue and reduce the symptoms of sleep apnea. This treatment prevents the tongue from blocking the airway while you sleep. Small amounts of targeted radiofrequency energy are directed to the back of the tongue, using a non-invasive device. This process usually requires multiple treatments, but over time, the airway is enlarged and the tongue is prevented from obstructing airflow during sleep.
Find the Right CPAP Sleep Apnea Mask Alternative for You
As disrupting as snoring can be, it is far from the worse symptom of sleep apnea. Untreated sleep apnea can lead to serious long-term health concerns, including heart disease and high-blood pressure. Lack of sleep can also put you at risk for accidents and lack of productivity.
CPAP treatment is a wonderful option, but it’s not for everyone. If using a CPAP machine is not the right therapy for you, there are CPAP alternatives. There is no reason for you to live with the social and health effects of snoring and sleep apnea. To learn more about your therapy options, make an appointment with one of the board-certified otolaryngologists (ENT doctors) at eos sleep.