If you really can’t tolerate a CPAP, there are alternative treatment options available. Contact Houston Sleep Solutions to discuss a treatment plan that can include:
- Dental/oral appliance
- Bilevel positive airway pressure machine (BiPAP)
- Nasal valve therapy
- Lifestyle changes
What to do while traveling
CPAP machines are extremely cumbersome when traveling on a plane. Additionally, they need to be cleaned regularly while you’re at a hotel. There are small travel CPAP machines available, but they are not as powerful and are quite loud.
- Use a dental/oral appliance. Small, portable, and easy to clean
- Try nasal valve therapy (Provent). This consists of a valve that goes into your nostrils held in place with tape. When you breathe out, the valve creates resistance on the back of your throat that keeps your airway open.
- Bring your own pillow. Hotel pillows many times are too soft to properly support your head and neck while you sleep, thus harder to breathe.
- Pack decongestants or antihistamines. These medications will relieve nasal stuffiness at night.
- A tennis ball or rolled-up socks. Pinned to the back of your pajamas, it will keep you from flipping onto your back during sleep.
An alternative machine to CPAP is a bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP) machine. It also requires that you wear a mask that pushes pressurized.
Since a CPAP machine has the same pressure when breathing in and out, many people who use a CPAP find the pressure hard to breathe out against. A BiPAP machine, however, has two pressure settings – lower when you breathe out than when you breathe in, making it easier to breathe overall.
An oral appliance is much less cumbersome than a CPAP and looks similar to a mouth guard used in sports.
Many oral appliances are approved by the FDA to treat sleep apnea. They help sleep by moving your lower jaw forward or holding your tongue in place, preventing the upper airway from blocking your airway while you sleep.
These appliances work best for patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea and are most effective when custom-fitted to each patient. A specialized dentist can fit you for the device and follow up with you to make sure that it fits.
When you are overweight or obese, fat can easily settle around your neck and throat that can block your airflow, and cause sleep apnea.
Losing just 10% of your body weight can improve sleep apnea symptoms. It may even cure the condition. If diet and exercise aren’t enough to help you lose weight, you might be a candidate for bariatric surgery.
A few simple changes to your lifestyle can help you sleep better at night:
- Sleep on your side. This makes it much easier on your airways.
- Avoid alcohol. A few glasses of alcohol before bed can relax your upper airway muscles and actually make it harder for you to breathe.
- Exercise regularly. Regular aerobic activity can help you lose the extra weight that makes it hard to breathe.
- Relieve congestion. Take a nasal decongestant or antihistamine to open nasal passages.
- Don’t smoke. Cigarette smoking worsens apnea by causing airway swelling.