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Monday, April 21, 2008

Alternatives to CPAP treatment

In my last post I mentioned that many who suffer from sleep apnea were unable to get their sleep apnea treated as they were unable to get used to the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine. I personally know of a few individuals who tried several times to be on the CPAP machine but gave up after a few attempts. Personally I did not have any problems getting accustomed to my CPAP machine. In fact, I am absolutely reliant on the CPAP machine now to ensure a good night’s sleep. My advice is that you should try your very best to use the CPAP upon the doctor’s recommendation.

To be honest, I was also initially very fearful and apprehensive about the CPAP device. I was wondering how it could cure my obstructive sleep apnea and how on earth was I going to sleep with a mask over my face? I also looked like I have been admitted to the intensive care unit with the CPAP mask and hooked on to the CPAP machine. In those days CPAP machines are much larger than what it is these days. When the Resmed technician showed me the machine which was incidentally the latest Resmed Autoset Sprit that was way back in 2002, I didn’t know what the CPAP machine is and what it does. To me, it looked like a scene from the Emergency Room in the hospital. I believe it is this fear which turns most people off. I know, as I have been there before and have gotten through it.

The other thing that went through my mind would be what my family members will be thinking? It would be like having a very sick person tied to a ventilator at home. It is this stigma and the initial fear which I personally feel is the main cause for the failure of taking to the CPAP machine. As a result of this, many would be immediately put off with using the CPAP machine or find ways and means not to use them citing all sorts of excuses. One of the main reasons would be discomfort and not being able to get use to the air pressure. Yes, there might be some slight discomfort initially, but so far, I have taken to the CPAP machine very well without any issues. I can also use the machine without the aid of a dehumidifier, but it could be due to the fact that I live in Singapore which is closer to the equator and the tropics so the humidity levels here are pretty high causing less discomfort compared to drier regions.

The issue about alternatives to the use of CPAP machines is serious enough that there are websites dedicated to those individuals who cannot tolerate the use of CPAP machines. These sites advocate alternative treatments to CPAP therapy. Depending on the severity of your Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), some alternatives to CPAP treatment might actually work. I have never explored these forms of sleep apnea remedies and sleep apnea alternative treatments. I think the main issue here is how we can treat sleep apnea and cure sleep apnea in general. It also all depends on the severity of your obstructive sleep apnea condition. Each individual might have different levels of sleep apnea severity and the condition can only be treated on assessment by a qualified sleep specialist or a medical practitioner. Doctors specializing in sleep apnea primarily Ear and Nose Specialists or ENTs expert in the field of sleep studies and obstructive sleep apnea will be able to determine what kinds of alternative sleep treatment there are currently in the market and which forms of sleep apnea treatment would be more beneficial to a specific individual. It is always best to consult a qualified medical professional about your current obstructive sleep apnea condition and the alternatives available to cure it. Each form of sleep apnea treatment like the use of the CPAP machine might vary from person to person.

As mentioned earlier some individuals simply cannot tolerate the use of the CPAP machine. I did some research over the web and looked for some of the alternative treatments available to treat obstructive sleep apnea besides just the use of the CPAP machine. Let’s face it. Although CPAP machines have gotten smaller in size, if you’re totally reliant to the use of the CPAP, you’re hooked on to it for life. It has to be constantly with you at ALL times. The term “Don’t Leave Home Without It”! could be also used to describe a CPAP machine once reliant to CPAP therapy. I for one personally cannot sleep without the aid of the CPAP device. While I have gotten use to the fact that I constantly have to lug it around while traveling overseas which can be a great inconvenience at times, I would honestly have to say that if it was possible that I could do without such a device, it would be really a god sent. It’s also tough to sleep on the plane with a CPAP hooked on to you without bothering the person next to you. You will also need to invest on external battery for your CPAP device or a special power extension cords catered for use in the aircraft. Forget about an overnight camping or fishing trip in the outdoors without the use of electricity. You will have to carry an additional weight of your CPAP machine as well as supporting batteries as your backup power supply. All this inconveniences although considered minor could lead to severe complications if you’re totally reliant on a CPAP device to aid you with your sleep. This article will explore the different forms of alternative sleep apnea treatments and hope that this will give you a better idea of the options available to treat your sleep apnea and potentially cure obstructive sleep apnea condition without the aid of the CPAP device.

Dental or Oral Sleep Apnea Treatment

Obstructive sleep apnea has always been linked to the medical profession. Apparently now, some dental professionals and dentists are getting involved in treating sleep apnea as well. Some forms of minor sleep apnea can be treated with dental aids or oral aids. It was quite surprising to me that oral devices which are pretty small and compact in nature could be use to cure sleep apnea. If so, could they be a better alternative to the CPAP machines? According to what this video above demonstrates, by using the dental/oral aid many individuals who had difficulty sleeping due to sleep apnea were cured. How successful in treating sleep apnea and to what extent is still unknown to me. But its seems to be a pretty straight forward procedure and non intrusive compared to surgery or the use of the CPAP device. This article about Snorkil which manufacturers this dental anti snoring aid highlights the effectiveness of anti snoring dental devices. Incidentally, Singapore is one of the countries Snorkil is being piloted in to combat sleep apnea. It’s good to find out that we now have other alternative to CPAP devices here in Singapore.

Surgical Sleep Apnea Treatment

Besides the use of the nasal CPAP devices and oral dental aids, the next alternative available treatment for sleep apnea would be surgery (more about surgery and sleep apnea treatment here) From what I understand from my doctor, surgery does NOT always cure your obstructive sleep apnea problems. In some cases, the CPAP devices is still required after a very expensive surgical procedure. According to this article, the success rate for surgery is rarely higher than 65% often deteriorating over time averaging to around 50% in later years to come. One of the surgery procedure Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) which will be discuss later is considered to be one of the most painful treatments for sleep apnea as well as been reported have potentially serious complications. A study has shown that 42% of patients had complaints about this procedure. More information about the success rate of Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) for sleep apnea treatment and its complications here. Higher success rates have been with the use of CPAP devices and oral dental aids to cure sleep apnea problems with any pain, side effects or complications. Sleep apnea dental oral aids versus CPAP machines statistics here.

Before going under the knife to correct your obstructive sleep apnea, seek the expert opinion from your sleep specialist or doctor. They will go thought all the options available and give good sound advice about the different options you have available, how they will go about each of these procedures and the percentages of success and the risks involved. From my research these are some of the current surgical procedures for obstructive sleep apnea treatment:

• Uvulo-Palato-Pharyngo-Plasty (UPPP)
• Laser Assisted Uvulo-Palato-Plasty (LAUP)
• Orthognathic Surgery

Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP)
is a procedure that removes excess tissue in the throat to make the airway wider. This sometimes can allow air to move through the throat more easily when you breathe, reducing the severity of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). More information about Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) here. Another great article about what you should know and expect about Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty surgery here.

Laser Assisted uvulo-palato-plasty (LAUP) surgery. LAUP is performed under local or general anesthetics. Its considered to be a safer and cheaper procedure compared to UPPP. It uses laser to vaporize the soft palate and uvula. Unlike UPPP, the LAUP process can be repeated to achieve the desired effect. Procedure varies with individual patients, some requiring as much as four sessions for the sleep apnea treatment to be effective. Although LAUP surgery has fewer complications compared to LAUP, post operative pain has been reported as being severe. In clinical trials comparing both the UPPP and LAUP procedures, there was no significant differences where post operative pain was concerned. Due to the severe post operative pain, patience compliance could be undermined at times. Unlike UPPP, which is a one time process, LAUP had to be done over a few sessions causing severe pain over a period of time. Similar with UPPP, the success rates for LAUP has been generally low. 2 years after a successful LAUP surgery, only 55% reported that their bed partners were satisfied with the results. More information about LAUP surgery here.

Orthognathic surgery is where the bones of the upper and lower jaw may be repositioned to increase the size of the airway. This is a more complex Procedure compared to UPPP or LAUP. There is a clinic here in Singapore specializing in Orthognathic surgery for sleep apnea.

Studies in general have shown that surgery have around a 50% to 65% chances of success but this all depends on the patient’s sleep apnea condition. CPAP devices, dental and oral aids are cheaper and painless alternatives which enjoy a higher success rate should you be able to tolerate these devices. The oral aids for sleep apnea seems to be the most inexpensive solution compared to CPAP or surgery. As mentioned before, see you sleep specialist or doctor for a full recommendation as well as the alternative treatments available to cure your obstructive sleep apnea.

Please bear in mind that this article is strictly for personal research purposes. I have NOT personally used any of these devices (with the exception of the CPAP machine) or have undergone through any of these surgical procedures to treat my obstructive sleep apnea. I have NOT validated any of these claims. I am also neither promoting, advocating or advertising the services of these companies or their products. This article was written more with research in mind, rather than from any commercial perspective. You should always do your own research and consult a fully qualified medical practitioner in the medical or dental field specializing in sleep apnea or snoring treatment.

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hi Nawin

I'm just reading your post about sleep apnea research, as I have sleep apnea myself.

Do you have any recommendations on CPAP devices? Any recommendations on which sleep research clinics i should go to and how much is the device?

You can email me at conrad.chung@gmail.com

July 20, 2009 at 7:49 PM  


Where can I buy snorkil oral device? I'm a Singaporean.


November 2, 2009 at 4:36 PM  

hi Nawin,

what brand of CPAP are you currently using. I think I may have to use one as well.

Gerry here. ca contact me at gee_magtalas@hotmail.com

July 7, 2010 at 9:25 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

March 25, 2012 at 6:12 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

March 25, 2012 at 6:14 PM  

how much does this treatment cost?


March 25, 2012 at 6:17 PM  

Very good stuff with good ideas and concepts, lots of great information and inspiration, both of which we all need...........thanks for sharing!!
Cpap Machine

February 18, 2020 at 10:05 PM  

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Disclaimer: The information found on SleepApneaSite.com is strictly for informational purposes only. It discusses possible ways to diagnose and cure obstructive sleep apnea. It also highlights the current treatment available for sleep related disorders. It is no way to be used as a medical guide to treat your sleep related ailments or problems. I am NOT a medical practitioner or doctor and the articles written here are NOT meant to be taken as medical advice. Please see a doctor or sleep specialist to get your sleep disorder treated by qualified personnel.