If you have sleep apnea, the snoring probably drives your family crazy. Not only that, but you likely feel tired or cranky during the day. If you haven’t had a sleep study yet, that’s the first step to take. A sleep study will provide you with information about how bad your apnea is and what you need to do to address the problem. There are 4 typical ways to treat sleep apnea, but they all work differently.
Desperate Times: Major Surgery. Before the 1980s, a tracheostomy was the only known way to treat snoring and sleep apnea. This surgery placed a permanent opening in the neck. Yes, it makes it possible for you to breathe while you sleep, but the negatives seem to outweigh the positives. Not only was a tracheostomy visible to everyone you met, it also made it difficult to speak and changed the quality of your voice. This treatment is still available for extreme cases that are complicated with other disease or injury, but if apnea is your only diagnosis, this is likely not the best solution.
CPAP Machines. Continuous Positive Air Pressure machines or CPAPs were discovered to be useful for sleep apnea in 1980. The machine and accessories have undergone many changes and refinements since that time, but the general idea remains the same: You sleep with a mask over your nose. The mask is attached to a hose, attached to a machine that blows air. The air blows gently all night, ensuring that your airway stays open. CPAPs are the most commonly prescribed treatment for sleep apnea, but sleep doctors know that they only work when patients are compliant in using them. They can be bulky, uncomfortable to wear, and hard to travel with.
Pressurize Your Nostrils: A new treatment on the scene is called Provent, a single use, disposable nasal device. It uses the pressure from the air you inhale to keep your airway open. It is a smaller, cleaner option than a CPAP machine. Each night you’ll use a new, sterile device. It is extremely portable and very discreet. There are few drawbacks to this treatment, but you will have to continue purchasing a new box every month. Since it is so new, not all insurance plans cover it, so you may be looking at an additional $70/month expense.
Adjust Your Airway Manually: Oral Appliance Therapy is a retainer-like treatment that repositions your jaw. You sleep with the device in your mouth and it guides your mandible in a way that prevents your upper airway from collapsing. The appliance is custom made to fit your teeth and jaw, unlike a boil and bite mouthguard. Like Provent, it is small and discreet, fitting into a pocket or handbag. But unlike Provent, it is a one-time purchase that most insurance companies will cover at least in part if not entirely.
Ask your sleep doctor about your options. When you choose Oral Appliance Therapy, contact Dr. Agarwal at Raleigh Dental Arts. With a custom oral sleep appliance, you can say goodbye to CPAP for good!