Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) is a treatment option for patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). When OSA occurs, the tongue is sucked against the back of the throat. This blocks the upper airway and airflow stops. When the oxygen level in the brain becomes low enough, the sleeper partially awakens, the obstruction in the throat clears, and the flow of air starts again, usually with a loud gasp.
The CPAP treatment is generally offered to patients with moderate to severe sleep apnea, and involves wearing a mask placed on the nose and/or mouth during sleep, which helps keep the airways open during. The mask is attached to a machine that delivers a continuous stream of compressed air.
The CPAP mask must be worn nightly for at least 6 hours in order to be effective.
When used properly, CPAP is a highly effective way to treat OSA. It reduces the risk of heart problems such as heart failure, decreases daytimes sleepiness, and may lower blood pressure both when in use and during waking hours.
Unfortunately, many users find the mask uncomfortable or inconvenient, and reduce use without consulting their doctor. Other patients may experience dry mouth, or complain that the noise produced by the machine actually makes sleep more difficult.
Mandibular advancement devices are custom made appliances that are an approved alternative therapy for those who are CPAP intolerant. Ask us about these alternative therapy options if you are having trouble with CPAP or you have stopped wearing your prescribed CPAP machine.
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