Do you wake up in the morning with fatigue and sleep apnea headaches? Maybe you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea, or you think you will be soon. So what is next? Is there hope? Can sleep apnea be cured?
There are a few sleep apnea cures. Yours will depend on the type of sleep apnea you have, along with other details of your case. For example, some patients only need a sleep apnea mouth guard to slightly change the position of their jaw, opening their airway. But this doesn’t work for other patients, who may need a more complex sleep apnea CPAP machine.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, Dr. Stirneman at Sleep Better Illinois can help you find the right sleep apnea solutions for you!
What Is a CPAP?
A common solution to sleep apnea, which has been used since the 1980s, is the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device. This pushes air into the throat and lungs, opening up a blocked airway and relieving severe obstructive sleep apnea.
This is accomplished through:
- A sleep apnea mask that covers either the nose only or both the nose and mouth, plus straps around the head to keep it there.
- A motorized device next to the bed that pressurizes and moves the air.
- A tube that connects the air machine to the mask and carries air between them.
Patients wear the mask during sleep to ensure a continuous flow of oxygen to your brain and body. You will probably have to sleep on your back, although it may be possible to adjust the mask to allow you to sleep on your side. If you travel, you’ll take the CPAP machine with you.
The advantages of a CPAP machine include that it can help you stop snoring, lower your blood pressure, help you sleep better, and make you feel more rested throughout your day. You may be more alert on the job, safer while driving, and generally happier.
Obstructive sleep apnea also causes you to stop breathing while you sleep, which can have a long term negative effect on your overall physical and mental health. The steady flow of oxygen from the CPAP machine prevents these negative effects to keep your body and mind functioning properly.
The disadvantages of CPAPs can lower the usage rate among patients who don’t enjoy them. Modern CPAPs may be quiet enough for some people, but others have trouble getting used to the unfamiliar sound, along with the sensation of wearing a mask and having anything near their faces.
Using a CPAP device can also lead to problems for some people, which can include:
- Dry or sore mouth.
- Feeling confined.
- Runny nose, congestion, nose bleed, or sinusitis (inflamed sinuses).
- The bridge of the nose becoming irritated or developing sores.
- Discomfort or bloating in the stomach.
- Pain in the chest muscles.
CPAP devices often work well enough for patients who use them. However, patients who suffer other symptoms because of using them have difficulty using them consistently.
If you are currently using a CPAP device, your healthcare provider could adjust the device to a new setting to relieve these problems. You could use a nasal spray, a face mask cushion, or a new CPAP that includes a humidifier, along with other possible solutions to make this beneficial device more comfortable for you.
Dental Device Options
Alternately, you could use an oral device instead of a CPAP. These are effective for some patients, especially those who have trouble with CPAP devices but still have troubles waking up unable to breathe.
How does sleep apnea treatment without CPAPs work? Instead of pushing air down the throat past the obstruction, oral sleep apnea devices treat the airway obstruction itself. A patient with mild or moderate sleep apnea wears a dental device in their mouth during the night, which adjusts your jaw to keep a narrow airway open while you sleep.
Some patients even use a sleep apnea mouthpiece while also using a CPAP. This simply makes their CPAP easier to use and doubles the effectiveness of the sleep apnea treatment. For example, they might lower its pressure setting. Other patients are able to stop using a CPAP or never start using one.
Mandibular Advancement Device
This oral device looks something like a sports mouthguard or a retainer. It easily snaps into place at night to cover the upper and lower teeth. When it is expertly customized by a sleep apnea dentist, it moves the lower jaw forward to the right position to open the airway. Many patients can immediately breathe more easily and sleep far better.
Tongue Stabilizing or Retaining Device
These are less common. They keep the airway open by not allowing the tongue to get in the way of breathing. Some patients with mild sleep apnea or even moderate sleep apnea who sleep on their stomachs or backs use them.
The device that works for you will be the one you actually use. If you have trouble using a CPAP (or even trouble imagining sleeping in a mask), a dental appliance for sleep apnea may be the solution for you.
Contact Dental Sleep Clinic, Sleep Better Illinois, About Sleep Apnea Devices
Contact Dr. Tim Stirneman who is recognized for helping patients with sleep apnea in the Chicago area. Get a free consultation with sleep dentistry leader Dr. Stirneman to improve your sleep—and your life—today.