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Here’s How You Can Breathe Easier Without a CPAP

Here’s How You Can Breathe Easier Without a CPAP

CPAP therapy — using a continuous positive airway pressure machine — is a common and effective treatment for sleep apnea. However, it’s not the right option for everyone, especially for those who don’t tolerate the machine.

Sleep apnea requires treatment to help you avoid health complications down the road. Luckily, CPAP alternatives are available that work to keep your airway open when you have this condition.

Dr. Katharine Christian and the team at The Snoring & Sleep Apnea Center in Seattle, Washington, offer various treatment methods when you’re dealing with sleep apnea. Dr. Christian is an experienced dental specialist with expertise in sleep medicine, and she offers other effective alternatives, such as oral appliance therapy, so you can breathe easier.

Understanding a CPAP machine

A CPAP device consists of a mask that goes over your mouth and nose, a hose that connects that to a machine, and a device that delivers continuous air pressure to keep your airway open when you sleep.

When you have sleep apnea, you periodically stop breathing for short periods of time when you sleep. This can be due to an airway obstruction like relaxed muscles and tissues in your upper throat common with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) or due to a problem in your brain, which is called central sleep apnea.

The CPAP machine helps keep your airway open when you have obstructive sleep apnea. While you’re sleeping, the machine forces air into your mouth and nose to keep the tissues in your airway from collapsing.

Sometimes, though, regular use of a CPAP machine can lead to uncomfortable and unwanted side effects that may include:

If you experience any of these side effects, it’s important to contact Dr. Christian before discontinuing the use of your CPAP machine. She can help you find an alternative treatment to control your sleep apnea to ensure you breathe well overnight and get quality sleep.

Alternative approaches for sleep apnea

Fortunately, there are other ways you can improve your breathing while you sleep without a CPAP machine.

Oral appliance therapy

If you’re unable to use a CPAP machine, Dr. Christian suggests oral appliance therapy. This approach uses a custom mouthpiece that helps keep your tongue out of your airway and moves your jaw forward to prevent the tissues collapsing in the back of your mouth.

There are several forms of mouthpieces available, and Dr. Christian helps you to determine which one is right for you.

Weight loss

If you’re overweight or obese, your risk for sleep apnea is significantly increased. When you have obstructive sleep apnea, excess weight worsens your symptoms. 

Losing weight helps keep your airway open because when you diminish excess fat in your neck area, you reduce the chances that tissue will fall on your airway while you sleep. While weight loss alone doesn’t cure OSA, it significantly decreases the severity of the disorder.

Sleep position

Believe it or not, the way you sleep can make your obstructive sleep apnea worse. Sleeping on your back causes your tongue to fall back and obstruct your airway. This can prompt more episodes of apnea throughout the night.

It’s better for you to sleep on your side to prevent your airway from becoming obstructed. You may still need other treatments as well, but side-sleeping reduces your risk of multiple episodes per night. Try a body pillow to help keep you from rolling onto your back overnight.

You should also take antihistamines or nasal decongestants if you suffer from allergies. The congestion common with allergies makes it difficult to breathe at night and may worsen your sleep apnea symptoms.

We can help you breathe easier

If you’ve tried using a CPAP machine for sleep apnea and you don’t tolerate it well, don’t give up. Dr. Christian has the knowledge and expertise to help you find the right treatment approach for OSA.

At your appointment, Dr. Christian discusses your CPAP experience to determine what you’re unable to tolerate. She also asks you about your sleep apnea, including your symptoms and overall health. She works with you to find the right way to treat your sleep apnea and finally get you the good night’s rest you need.

To find out more about CPAP alternatives, don’t hesitate to call our office today at 206-905-6998, or request an appointment using our online booking tool. Dr. Christian provides telehealth appointments as well.

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