While modern CPAP machines are an effective tool for many people, others may experience negative side effects that require the use of different technologies or tools. If you notice any of the following uncomfortable symptoms, you may want to consider other treatments for your sleep disorder.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a medical condition causing breathing difficulties during sleep. Affecting more than 22 million Americans, airway obstruction can result from obesity, large tonsils, or hormone imbalances. Sufferers struggle to breathe, often awakening as often as 30 times due to shallow and paused respirations. Because of this, they may experience sleep deprivation symptoms such as impaired mental functioning, sluggishness, and depression. In addition, untreated OSA leads to high blood pressure and even heart attacks as the body tries to manage with limited oxygen.
CPAP machines provide continuous positive airway pressure from an air pump that pulses air into the lungs through a hose clipped on a snug facial mask. It is a common treatment for sleep apnea.
CPAP machines offer many people more benefits than negative complications, but they are not right for everyone. If your machine does not fit your face and mouth properly, the following complications could occur:
Pressure from improperly fitting CPAP machine straps can alter your facial bones. Like the other tissues in your body, bone tissue is constantly remodeled by special cells. Hours of compression redirect tissue growth, eventually changing the alignment of your jaws and teeth. The use of nasal pillows can increase the size of the nostrils due to pressure.
Most people are unaware that teeth drift throughout their lifespan. Changes in the immediate environment of each tooth, meaning increased or decreased pressure from neighboring teeth as well as the pressure exerted by blowing air, cause bone changes at the root during normal ongoing tissue growth.
Although nose breathing is the most healthful way to inhale, mouth breathing is common. CPAP machines are available for both. Either way, many CPAP users develop dry mouth because blowing air evaporates saliva. More than an oral lubricant, saliva helps regulate oral pH levels to prevent bacterial overgrowth. The increased acidity of a dry mouth promotes the overgrowth of decay-producing bacteria.
Constant acidity from dry mouth causes tooth erosion as weakened enamel wears away. Without attentive oral hygiene, cavities result. The gums may also break down because of accumulated bacteria resulting from dry mouth. Untreated tooth and gum disease can lead to bad breath, bleeding, abscesses, and tooth loss.
For people who are not benefiting from a CPAP machine, there are a couple of alternative treatments you can try:
Your tongue and the tissues of your throat relax as you sleep and can block the airway but oral appliances hold those tissues forward. Appliances like a mandibular repositioning device can hold the tongue out of the airway by gently holding the jaw forward.
Obesity is often linked with OSA because the excess weight puts pressure on the chest and body, closing off your airway. Losing weight has many health benefits, including the improvement of sleep.
Dr. Steven Wilk at the Denver Sleep Apnea Center in Denver specializes in solutions for sleep apnea, especially custom-made small retainers as CPAP alternatives. If you’ve been struggling to get a good night of sleep, schedule a consultation today by calling our office or filling out an online contact form.