Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition where people experience obstructed or restricted breathing for periods of 10 seconds during sleep. This duration can be longer in some cases. It can be diagnosed either by an overnight sleep study at a clinic or an at-home test.
Continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, is the standard treatment for OSA. It involves wearing a mask during sleep. It fits into the nostrils and pressurised air is delivered via tubing from a machine to keep the upper airway open during sleep.
CPAP is recommended as the initial treatment for moderate or severe OSA. When effective, it improves daytime sleepiness and quality of life.
Since OSA is a chronic disease, it requires long-term treatment. But there are many patients who struggle with CPAP.
For such patients, here we are mentioning some CPAP alternatives for sleep apnea:
- Positional therapy can be an option for patients who face less airway obstruction when sleeping on their sides.
- Patients with mild or moderate OSA can take the help of mandibular advancement appliance. It works by moving the jaw forward and therefore increases the size of the upper airway and reduces air resistance that leads to sleep apnea and snoring.
- Some patients may opt for a UP3 (uvulopalatopharyngoplasty) or uvulectomy procedure to have a long palate shortened. Excess tissue in the soft palate is removed to widen the airway and this allows air to move through the throat more easily.
- Removal of tonsils and adenoids is recommended if they are enlarged. If tonsils behind the palate and tongue are contributing to airway obstruction or snoring, it is recommended to require removal.
- Patients with shortened upper or lower jawbones may benefit from maxillomandibular advancement or MMA surgery. In this, the upper jaw (maxilla) and the lower jaw (mandible) are lengthened and moved forward. This surgery is reserved for patients with moderate to severe OSA.