CPAP Solutions & Alternatives
Sleep Apnea can be a life-threatening disease. If you have been diagnosed, or if you or a loved one feels they have sleep apnea they should not let it go untreated. There are different ranges of sleep apnea depending upon the number of apneic events person experiences each hour. By definition, an apneic event is when a person stops breathing for 10 seconds or longer. There are three ways to treat sleep apnea.
There are several options for the treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea. The “Gold Standard” in the medical community is through the use of a device called CPAP (Constant Positive Air Pressure). The CPAP machine is attached to a mask which makes a seal around your mouth and/or nose supplying a continual flow of air while you sleep. The pressure of this air opens up your airway between the base of the tongue and the back of your throat. If you apply enough pressure and have a good enough seal with your mask you can almost always reduce the number of apneic events. Although these machines are capable of doing a good job in opening up the obstruction which causes obstructive sleep apnea, they can be intrusive to a patient’s sleep habits. Some find that although they can tolerate CPAP, they cannot find a comfortable mask. If you can sleep comfortably with a CPAP unit it is your best solution for sleep apnea.
There are many variations on the same theme including a machine called an AutoPAP and one called BiPAP. AutoPAP can dynamically change air pressure depending on the patient’s response. BiPAP also senses the patient’s needs but is only capable of applying different fixed pressures which are programmed by the Sleep Physicians who use the data collected from the polysomnogram. Both machines put out varying degrees of pressure depending upon what they sense the patient requires. There are many different options for masks including size, material, and application.
Alternatives to CPAP
Some patients depending upon their physiology are candidates for surgical procedures which in turn open the airway. It is difficult to predict whether these procedures will cure or minimize a patient’s disease. All surgical procedures do have some risk associated with them. The procedures themselves are not reversible. In some cases, they can affect your swallowing. If you are a candidate for a surgical procedure you should thoroughly discuss what you should expect post-operatively.
Patients who experience the trouble of sleep apnea may not want to go through the trouble of surgery due to the risks involved. They may find they are intolerant to CPAP because the face mask is bulky, inconvenient, and uncomfortable to wear etc.
Oral Appliance Therapy
In that case, we offer Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT) for the treatment of sleep apnea. Oral appliances also called Mandibular Advancement Splints (MAS) come in many different designs. All appliances have the goal of moving your lower jaw (Mandible) forward. When the jaw moves forward it moves the base of the tongue forward off the back of the throat reducing or eliminating the obstruction to breathing. Worn during sleep to increase the upper airway volume and reduce collapsibility of it. It should also be mentioned that many sleep apneics are overweight and/or have large neck diameters weight loss can also help reduce the number of apneic events. Lifestyle changes may also be effective. Drinking alcohol prior to bedtime can cause more severe disease. Many times people have a lower amount of apneic events on their sides than they do while lying on their back.
Due to the success of Oral Appliance Therapy, patients who have gone to Dr. Shantzer for a CPAP alternative have been able to treat their disease without CPAP or surgery. If you have sleep apnea, chances are you have are at risk of high blood pressure and even stroke. Do not wait until this medical problem leads to later complications.
The Oral appliances are specifically designed to offer comfort, quality, and firmness for sleep apnea patients. Many patients turn to this CPAP alternative because it is made from the highest quality acrylic and is comfortable to wear throughout the night. It is clear that through continuing education and patient service Dr. Shantzer will be the future of CPAP solutions because his devices have been clinically proven to work. Dr. Shantzer is committed to helping people treat their disease. Since the treatment has been shown to have a significant impact on lowering blood pressure and greatly reduces the risk of stroke. Dr. Shantzer is one of the only providers of CPAP alternatives areas to supply Medicare patients with oral appliance therapy with no out-of-pocket costs.