Many people in Wilmington suffer with sleep apnea for years before realizing it’s the cause of their health problems. You might have been gaining weight, have high blood pressure, and low energy. You have felt sleepy during the day, no matter how much sleep you think you’re getting. You were probably struggling at work, and might have had mood problems that included depression and irritability. 

The diagnosis of sleep apnea can be hopeful. You have finally found a potential cause for numerous struggles you’ve been facing, and that means that treatment can finally begin. It’s also likely that your doctor has prescribed continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) for treatment. You’re not entirely sure what to expect from this new treatment.

man sleeping peacefully in bed

CPAP Can Be Highly Effective If You Use It

One of the most important things to know about CPAP is that it’s a highly effective treatment for sleep apnea. Sleep apnea occurs when you stop breathing, either because your airway has collapsed, cutting off your supply of oxygen (obstructive sleep apnea), or your brain has stopped telling your body to breathe (central sleep apnea).

CPAP treats sleep apnea by forcing air into your airway through a mask. The pressure from the airflow keeps your airway from collapsing. It also ensures that your body has access to oxygen even if your brain stops telling the body to breathe.

Because of this, many sleep doctors describe CPAP as “100% effective.” Others are a little more reserved, but the overall consensus is that if you use your CPAP regularly, you’ll see a dramatic improvement in your sleep apnea symptoms. You’ll get a deep, refreshing sleep. You’ll feel well-rested, have more energy, and will see an improvement in your mood as well.

Adherence to CPAP therapy can give numerous benefits, so it’s worth taking the time to make sure the treatment works.

Many Options Help Make CPAP More Comfortable

It’s also important to understand that CPAP machines have many options to help make them more comfortable.

There are many different styles of masks and straps. Masks can be minimal. They might cover just your nose, or even just be a couple of air inlets into your nostrils. Other masks can be larger, covering both your nose and mouth. You should try multiple masks during the process of fitting and adjusting your CPAP treatment.

Humidifiers help people who get dry nostrils, mouth, or throat as a result of CPAP treatment. There are air heaters to reduce the problem of cold air in the throat or nose.

CPAP pressure can be set high or low, and can be adjusted in many ways to make it more comfortable. Some machines can ramp up the pressure gradually to make it easier to fall asleep.

There are even variations like BiPAP (bilevel positive airway pressure) and APAP (automatic positive airway pressure) that can make the machine more adaptable to your breathing.

Straps to hold masks on come in numerous configurations to help you find one that can secure your mask without causing too much skin irritation.

CPAP Machines Require Extensive Cleaning

CPAP machines are supposed to protect your health. However, there is also the possibility that they can cause health problems if they’re not properly maintained. After all, the machine works by forcing air into your lungs, so if it’s not clean air, you might put yourself at risk for irritation and infection.

You will have to clean much of your CPAP equipment daily. This includes cleaning the mask, air tubing, and supplemental equipment, such as your humidifier. This involves breaking down the equipment extensively prior to cleaning, cleaning it, then drying it out before reassembling it at night to use again.

Some people find this to be a reasonable addition to their daily routine. Other people find it an onerous nuisance that is hard to adjust to.

Most People Don’t Use CPAP

CPAP has one major disadvantage as a sleep apnea treatment: most people don’t use it. Depending on what studies you look at, long-term usage of CPAP machines range from one-third to just under one half. This means that most people prescribed CPAP end up having untreated sleep apnea–which means the continuation of snoring and other symptoms–within a year of getting their CPAP machine.

Even those who do use their CPAP as recommended might not see their symptoms improve as much as they’d like. That’s because CPAP usage guidelines often say to use it at least 4 hours a night on 70% of nights. In other words, people are supposedly complying with  CPAP treatment if they’re only using it for about 35% of sleeping hours.This might not be enough to alleviate many sleep apnea symptoms.

It’s Not Your Only Option

Finally, it’s important to understand that CPAP is not the only treatment option for sleep apnea. Most people with sleep apnea have the option of choosing oral appliance therapy (OAT). A sleep apnea appliance is something you slip in your mouth when you go to bed. It’s similar to a sports mouthguard or teeth whitening trays. Most OAT works by repositioning your jaw to keep  your airway open.

OAT is comfortable, convenient, and effective. For maintenance, all you have to do is rinse  your oral appliance and put it in to soak. You can easily transport your appliance in your coat or jacket pocket.

For most people, OAT is also available as a front-line sleep apnea treatment. You don’t have to try CPAP first, just choose OAT instead. If you have severe sleep apnea, you might need to try CPAP first before your insurance company will pay for your oral appliance. 

Learn More about Sleep Apnea Treatment in Wilmington

If you aren’t happy with the thought of CPAP, you should learn whether you are a candidate for OAT in Wilmington, DE. Sleep dentist Dr. Michael T. Rosen can help you get an oral appliance to treat your sleep apnea.

Please call (302) 994-0979 or contact us today online for an appointment at the office of Michael T. Rosen in Wilmington, DE.