For people who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, getting diagnosed is just the first step in the journey to better health. Unfortunately, this is where the path tapers off for far too many patients. During a study of patients using CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy, the US National Library of Medicine concluded that, “Approximately one-half of our patients were not using CPAP at long-term follow-up. Most of these individuals had never filled their original CPAP prescription.” (see the study here) Since CPAP is still the go-to therapy that most doctors prescribe, this presents a significant problem for the patient population.
Many patients do not realize that there are alternative to CPAP therapy, most notably oral appliances that can be worn at night to help keep the airway from collapsing. There are also surgical options. But which is the best treatment for sleep apnea? Is there a clear winner amongst the choices for sleep apnea treatment?
There is. Without a doubt, the best treatment for sleep apnea is the one that is consistently used.
For the fifty percent of patients that do stay CPAP-compliant, CPAP is the best treatment. CPAP is incredibly effective and it works when it is used consistently. But it does little to help the other half of those patients, whose machines sit collecting dust in the corner of the bedroom (if they’ve even gone as far as to get the machine in the first place.) When asked why they’ve failed to stay compliant, patients usually cite one of the following reasons:
- the mask and machine make it difficult to be intimate, or to feel attractive, to their bed partner
- conversation while wearing it is difficult, so it can feel isolating from bed partners
- the air being blown in their face is uncomfortable or unnerving
- the mask is uncomfortable or makes them feel claustrophobic
- the machine is too loud
- it’s too much to lug around for people who travel or camp frequently
Image is shared from Pleasant Grove Dental, (click here to see their full article)
The problem is that when many of these non-compliant patients make the decision to retire their CPAP machine, they don’t realize that they have other options. Oral device therapy is one of the best options available, and is considered the first line of treatment for mild to moderate sleep apnea by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. The best part is that patients who have failed CPAP therapy for one of the reasons above often find that oral devices are comfortable, silent, easy to travel with, and do not interfere with relationships or intimacy at all.
The fact is that the best therapy is the therapy the patient uses, whether it’s CPAP, an oral device, or successful surgery. Any of these is better than untreated sleep apnea by a long shot. The consequences of letting sleep apnea go untreated are many, and often dire. From a noted increase in fatal car accidents, to obesity, diabetes, heart problems, increased risk of stroke, and more, untreated sleep apnea can do a number on one’s health and wellness. It can even shorten life expectancy by as many as twelve years! Learn more about the different options in the video below:
Have you, or a loved one, failed CPAP therapy? Would you like to learn more about oral device therapy? Click here to find a provider near you! Don’t let sleep apnea go untreated–the consequences are simply not worth it, especially when you have options.