Understand the various sleep apnea devices and how they can help with different sleep disorders.
CPAP - Continuous Positive Airway Pressure
A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device is a small pump that delivers a continuous supply of compressed air through a mask that either covers your nose or your nose and mouth. The compressed air prevents your throat from closing. This is the most effective and popular of sleep apnea devices available.
CPAP devices can feel peculiar to start with and you may be tempted to stop using it. But people who persevere usually soon get used to it and their symptoms improve significantly and is probably the most effective therapy for treating severe cases of sleep apnea.
As well as reducing symptoms such as snoring and tiredness, it can also reduce the risk of complications of sleep apnea, such as high blood pressure.
Possible side effects of using a CPAP device can include:
Earlier versions of CPAP also often caused problems such as nasal dryness and a sore throat. However, modern versions tend to include humidifiers, a device that increases moisture, which helps reduce these side effects.
Sleep Apnea Chin Strap
Chin straps are designed to keep your mouth closed while you sleep. By keeping your mouth closed you are less likely to snore or have any apneas during sleep.
When you wear a chin strap before sleeping, it acts like a sling that serves to hold your jaw firmly in place. Thanks to this, the mouth stays closed and this forward position of the jaw reduces the risk of the tongue and throat tissues falling back to block the airways. The end result – there is no snoring.
Sleep apnea devices can be used together
If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea and are advised to use a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine, your doctor may ask you to also use a chin strap.
If you are the type who sleeps with the mouth open, this can prove counterproductive – the air entering your throat through the mask escapes out of the mouth and does not perform the intended function of keeping the airways open. This can actually worsen the sleep apnea and therefore, doctors advise sleep apnea patients who sleep with the mouth open to use a chin strap in combination with CPAP therapy.
Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD)
Another sleep apnea device available is a 'MAD' looks like a mouth guard that athletes wear. It snaps over your top and bottom teeth. Both hook together and keeps your jaw and tongue forward to increase the space at the back of the throat and reduce the narrowing of your airway that causes snoring.
The device is adjustable so you can ease the jaw forward which has to be done until the lower jaw has moved to its maximum forward position.
They're not generally recommended for more severe sleep apnea, although they may be an option if you're unable to tolerate using a CPAP device.
It's designed to hold your jaw and tongue forward to increase the space at the back of your throat and reduce the narrowing of your airway that causes snoring.
MAD made to measure
Off-the-shelf MADs are available from specialist websites, but most experts don't recommend them, as poor-fitting MADs can make symptoms worse.
It's recommended you have an MAD made for you by a dentist with training and experience in treating sleep apnea. You may need to pay for the device privately through a dentist or orthodontist.
Who its not suitable for:
A MAD may not be suitable treatment for you if you don't have many – or any – teeth. If you have dental caps, crowns or bridgework, consult your dentist to ensure they won't be stressed or damaged by an MAD.
Other Sleep Apnea Devices
I have seen adverts for acupuncture rings to stop sleep apnea and also back packs specially made for sleep apnea sufferers where you load the back pack so you can't roll onto your back. As its laying on the back which usually heightens the symptoms.
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