What is a CPAP machine?
CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) is a piece of equipment that individuals with sleep apnea use when they sleep. It is designed to ensure that the patient breathes continuously throughout the night, eliminating interruptions and irregular breathing patterns.
What is sleep apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep condition in which the throat muscles relax causing the airway to temporarily close and breathing to stop. Men and older or obese individuals are the most at risk for sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea often causes loud snoring. This can be inconvenient for the individual with sleep apnea as well as for their bed partner.
People with sleep apnea don’t get the quality sleep we all need to stay healthy. In addition, restricted sleep can lead to compromised mental and physical health, which in turn can lead to a variety of other related issues such as depression or diabetes.
The following health factors are linked to untreated sleep apnea:
- Cardiovascular complications such as a stroke
- Hypertension or pulmonary hypertension
- Cognitive impairment
- Myocardial infarction
- Psychiatric disorders
- Daytime headaches
- In severe cases, death
- Losing weight (which may relieve the condition)
- An oral appliance that keeps the throat open during sleep (prescribed and fitted by a dentist)
What are the downsides of CPAP use for sleep apnea?
- CPAP machines can be loud and uncomfortable
- CPAP machines can be heavy and difficult to travel with
- Individuals with claustrophobia can find it difficult to put something over their mouth and nose
- While sleeping, the CPAP user can get tangled up in the hose if they move around a lot when they sleep
- CPAP machines can be difficult to clean
- CPAP machines can be noisy which can prevent the patient’s bed partner from sleeping
If a person with sleep apnea wants to improve their quality of sleep and life overall, or simply wants to avoid the inconveniences of CPAP machines, they can consider Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT). OAT is administered by dentists who specialize in dental sleep medicine. (This is not to be confused with sleep dentistry which refers to the use of anesthesia so the patient sleeps through dental procedures.)
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