If your board-certified sleep doctor diagnosed you with obstructive sleep apnea, in which the relaxed throat muscles cause airflow to pass through narrowed airway producing the snoring sound and interrupted sleep. The air finds difficulty reaching your lungs. The science and technology has invented different ways to treat this sleep disorder. Talking about devices and gadgets, the most resulting and widely used sleep test devices to treat your sleep apnea disorder are Continuous Positive Airway Pressure known as CPAP machines, dental appliances or sleep apnea mouth guard.
Let’s talk about them specifically one by one.
CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure)
CPAP is the standard and most widely used treatment for sleep apnea. If you are suffering from sleep apnea, you can benefit from the machine no matter what’s the level of severity. The design of sleep apnea machine is made to provide pressurized air as compared to the surrounding. The pressured air keeps the upper airways open making airflow steady while sleep preventing sleep apnea and snoring. The CPAP machines have a sleep apnea mask which fits your nose or nose and mouth sometimes.
They are widely used because they are small, lightweight and make no noise. Besides these, the big benefit is, they are portable, and you can carry them anywhere where you go.
There are different models of CPAP machines in the market, and you can use a mask that best fits on you. But, some people find it hard to sleep wearing it especially in the early days of treatments.
The device works well and gives positive results if used every night.
Benefits of CPAP:
Besides, keeping your airways open during sleep, it also
- Makes snoring easy
- Provides healthy sleep
- Improves sleep quality
- Lowers blood pressure
- Prevents daytime sleepiness
- Keeps you alert and active
Side Effects of CPAP:
CPAP has some side effects
- Dry mouth
- Skin irritation
- Nasal congestion
- tomach discomfort
- Disturbed chest muscles
But they are very minor and consulting your doctor may help you. If you have any other problem relating to the machine and its comfort, call your doctor to solve it.
Mouth devices or oral sleep apnea appliances are helpful and effective if CPAP didn’t show effective results for you. Oral appliances are used to treat mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea.
You can buy them as per the recommendation of your doctor or request to make a custom one. Dentist or orthodontist fits these sleep apnea devices in your mouth and you have to wear it during the night.
Some mouth devices are
MAD (Mandibular Advancement device)
This one has widely used mouth device and looks like a mouth guard used by athletes. It covers both upper and lower teeth. Metal hinges are there which allow the lower jaw to ease forward. This position keeps your airways open during sleep. Some devices are so advanced and provide advancement feature also.
Tongue retaining device
As the name suggests, it is a splint that holds the tongue in position so the airways are open allowing the air to reach the lungs easily during sleep. It is less used as compared to MAD because it is not comfortable and people find it hard to get used of it.
Dental devices work better for those people who have mild to moderate sleep apnea, improve sleep quality and reduce the snoring frequency and sound intensity. People use dental devices more than CPAP.
If you are wearing a dental device, you should go for a checkup to see if everything is working properly and regular checkups are also recommended if any possible changes in adjustment occurs. If you have any problem like pain or altered bite-size, your dentist may fix it.
Boil and Bite
Boil and bite is a very simple and traditional gadget to deal with sleep apnea. You can buy it from a store or order it online. The name “boil and bite” is because you first boil it in the hot water and then you bite it so it could fit your mouth. Same like other devices, it also aims to ease forward your lower jaw for continuous airflow.
The custom – made devices work better as compared to the over – the – counter appliances. People who use custom – made devices get more effective results and the sleep apnea disorder reduces in them as compared to who use ordinary devices. Also, the sleep apnea appliances that you purchase over the counter or online are not FDA approved. If they don’t fit properly, they may cause some problems including your jaws and teeth or they can have the opposite effect making your sleep apnea more serious.
Your body position plays an effective role in sleep apnea, so a pillow can help you. The market is full of such pillows and they have different styles, like wedge shape which stable you’re breathing by lifting up your upper body portion.
The research has proved that a person sleeping on his back with waist lifted up increases the chances of better breathing as this position keeps his airways open and stable.
The American Sleep Apnea Association says sleep apnea sufferer should use foam wedges instead of soft pillows.
You can use a sleep apnea pillow with CPAP or without CPAP. In the second case, the pillow supports your neck maintaining a position for open airways. On the other hand, when you wear your CPAP machine during sleep, to make it comfortable you can also use a pillow. Some pillows have features to reduce the pressure of sleep apnea mask or making it stay in place.
According to the study, people who use a pillow with a CPAP machine feel more comfortable than those who don’t. But they don’t stick to their machine longer as compared to those who didn’t use the pillows. So, using a special pillow makes it comfortable but it doesn’t support long-lasting commitment.
Nerve Stimulation Devices
The oral appliance doesn’t always work for some people who have severe sleep apnea and they have to go through surgery recommended by their sleep specialists. It is normally carried out in cases when your tongue and throat tissues back off and block the air to pass through, hypoglossal (a device) can solve your problem.
It is a small device and minor surgery is done to put it inside the sufferer’s chest. It controls by a remote to turn it on at night and off when you wake up. It is used to monitor breathing pattern and generates signals which passes to the nerve which controls the tongued.
It is the best option for people who didn’t get effective results by CPAP sleep test machine or couldn’t use properly to get the results. But your doctor consultation is a must.
Obstructive sleep apnea has many treatments including oral appliances to surgery. Which would be best for you? The answer to this question depends on different factors like how much you are affected by the problem, what is the physical structure of your jaws and upper airways, your medical condition or problems you may have and how you want to be treated. You should go to your sleep specialist to discuss the problem and find the best possible treatment for you.