Unlike many disorders, for those afflicted with sleep apnea, the sufferers are often the people with whom they sleep. Bed partners have to lie awake listening to their irregular breathing patterns and worry that they may not take their next breath. Of course, those who are afflicted also contend with symptoms that make life difficult, particularly in their waking hours when they are dealing with tiredness and lack of concentration as a result. Sleep apnea devices are designed to assist the patient to breathe properly and thus, hopefully ensure a good night’s sleep. Unfortunately, not all sleep apnea devices work for all sufferers so it can be a case of trial and error until the most appropriate device is determined.
Some cases of the disorder are remedied with surgical solutions whereas others are more readily treated with sleep apnea devices designed to help the airways remain open during sleep. These can include, CPAP – Continuous Positive Airway Pressure – devices, dental appliances, jaw adjustment devices and even the administration of oxygen during sleep.
CPAP sleep apnea devices provide safe and effective, immediate relief. CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. CPAP machines are portable air generators that operate to deliver oxygen at low pressure to the patient via nasal tubing or a full face mask. The job of the air pressure is to push the patient’s tongue forward and open the throat so that air can flow more easily into the lungs.
Unfortunately, CPAP sleep apnea devices are not without their own side effects. Some patients report dry eyes, headaches, soreness on the bridge of the nose, skin breakouts around the perimeter of the mask, skin dryness, dry mouth, dry nose and stomach wind. Still, for some patients, not using one of these machines presents more health issues than the associated side effects and could even make the difference between life and death.
Types of machines
CPAP machines are not all the same. There are those that are self-adjusting, some that are adjusted manually and some that are bi-pressure. Some include heated dehumidifiers. Understandably these kinds of sleep apnea devices require a prescription so that the correct machine can be purchased for the patient’s particular requirements. It is important to develop a relationship with your machine retailer because they will stock all the necessary masks, hoses and other accessories that will need to be replaced periodically. Your retailer will be specially trained in the functioning of the machines and will be able to advise on maintenance as well as be able to answer all of your questions.
The APAP sleep apnea device is a machine that operates automatically to adjust the pressure required on a breath by breath basis, to keep patients’ airways open as they sleep. APAP machines are more advanced, and therefore more expensive, than CPAPs but for severe apnea sufferers, the extra expense means enhanced peace of mind.
For those who are fortunate enough not to require comprehensive machinery, there are dental sleep apnea devices that are quite effective. They are portable so ideal for travel and in some instances, they are actually more successful and effective than surgery for some kinds of airway obstructions.
A dental sleep apnea device prevents the patient’s tongue from falling back into the throat and causing the patient to stop breathing, however temporarily. The device simply holds the patient’s lower jaw forward using two full arch acrylic devices that cover the teeth and that are attached to each other. Different models offer different degrees of advancement but medical professionals recommend at least 50% movement for success.
Side effects of dental sleep apnea devices include soreness, build-up of saliva, possible damage to the jaw, teeth and mouth and even a permanent alteration to the position of the teeth or jaw. Again, the side effects must be weighed against the benefits achieved to determine the best solution.
Considering the degrees of severity of sleep apnea and the results achieved by some of the sleep apnea devices available to patients, sufferers should invest time in being diagnosed properly. Therapy for the condition is not a one-size-fits-all situation and solutions must be tailor-made for the individual.
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