Why Is CPAP The Only Sleep Apnea Treatment Option My Doctor Mentioned?

Friday, January 8th, 2016, 1:06 am

This is a really good question. Too often patients who have received a diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea are only offered CPAP as a treatment.

While CPAP is a wonderfully effective treatment for managing obstructive sleep apnea, more than half of those given the machines fail to stick with the treatment according to a new study. This isn’t surprising, we have known for years that it is difficult for patients to tolerate sleeping with a mask and machine.

What is disturbing is that the majority of these patients aren’t told about additional options for treatment or referred to a specialist when they can’t tolerate CPAP.

“The most striking thing about our study is that this is the first study to look at how many patients are using CPAP after a diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea,” said Dr. Alan Kominsky of the Cleveland Clinic. “The surprising finding was just how few patients were referred to other providers once CPAP failed.

Obstructive sleep apnea causes people to stop breathing during sleep. The standard treatment, CPAP or continuous positive airway pressure, uses pressurized air pushed through a mask to help keep the airway open during sleep. This study, published in the journal Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery included a review of the medical records of about 600 people. All of them had a diagnosis of sleep apnea and had been given CPAP as treatment. Only 42% began using the CPAP as directed, and surprisingly, only about one third of the patients who couldn’t use the device were referred to another specialist for a different treatment.

Untreated obstructive sleep apnea increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and can lead to memory problems and excessive daytime sleepiness. Options for treatment include surgery and a dental device known as an oral appliance or mandibular advancement device.

Oral appliances are a non-invasive approach and have been proven to effectively treat obstructive sleep apnea and the majority of patients with oral appliances find them comfortable and easy to use. There are no machines, tubes or masks, just a small oral device that is worn during sleep. Dentists who provide oral appliance therapy to patients with obstructive sleep apnea have received special training in treating this sleep breathing disorder.

Find out if oral appliance therapy is the right treatment for your obstructive sleep apnea by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777.

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Category: Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), sleep apnea

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