CPAP machines are the gold standard. CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Air Pressure. In essence they breathe for you at night opening your airway by pushing against the soft tissues that may block your airway during an apnea (when you stop breathing because you have Obstructive Sleep Apnea). There are several types of CPAPs on the market other than the standard CPAP. There is the BiPAP, which has one pressure when you breathe in or inhale that is different from the second pressure when you breathe out or exhale. Then there is the AutoPap, which adjusts the pressure of the airflow depending on the resistance that is encountered. So are there alternative for using a CPAP machine? The answer is yes. The first is to have a specialized surgery of the upper throat. Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, is also known as U triple P surgery. A surgeon, either an Ear Nose and Throat physician or a maxillo-facial surgeon, removes certain tissue of the upper airway and tonsils, the back of the throat, and the uvula (the tissue hanging down in the back of your throat) to expand the throat cross-section of your airway and allow you to breathe at night when you are sleeping. I have at least one patient who has had the surgery done and he said that it takes a little time to retrain yourself on how to swallow effectively. The second way is to simply wear a custom, specially designed intra-oral appliance called a MAD (mandibular advancement device) or a Sleep Apnea Appliance. These appliances are designed to simple move the lower jaw forward and keep it forward thus opening the airway.
Sleep Apnea Appliances
What is a Sleep Apnea appliance? Simply put it is a custom made appliance that you wear intra-orally (that is inside your mouth) at night when you are sleep that repositions your lower jaw forward. This opens your airway and keeps it open while you are sleeping. These are an alternative for people who are unable or unwilling to wear a CPAP machine. They are also sometimes a primary treatment of mild to moderately diagnosed Obstructive Sleep Apnea or OSA. In fact the American Association of Sleep Medicine, the professional society for Sleep Physicians, has reviewed the research and has endorsed the use of sleep apnea appliances (mandibular repositioning devices or MAD) for mild to moderate OSA and as an alternative for people not willing or unable to use the CPAP machine.