10 CPAP Alternatives: For Mouth Breathers To Get More Comfort
If you have difficulty adapting to a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine, there are several alternatives to a CPAP for sleep apnea. While a CPAP is the most popular treatment for sleep apnea, there are other therapies available that may be more effective or comfortable for you. In this section, we will discuss some of the most popular alternatives to a CPAP, although you should always consult your doctor before deciding which treatment plan suits you best.
CPAP Alternatives for Mouth Breathers
Most people breathe through the nose and mouth. Some people with OSA only breathe through the mouth when they sleep. Oral breathing usually occurs when tonsils, congestion, adenoids or a deviated septum block the nose. If you breathe through your mouth while you are using a CPAP machine, you can wake up with a dry nose and throat. This unpleasant side effect causes many to abandon CPAP treatment.
You may be able to overcome this problem.
If you have moderate or mild obstructive sleep apnea, you can use sleep apnea chin straps. The chin strap fits your head down to your chin in a way that will keep your mouth shut while sleeping. The advantage of using this apnea sleep aid is that it encourages you to breathe more naturally via your nose.
The chin strips are affordable, and you can get them in the market. Other chin straps can be adjusted for better positioning of your lower jaw forward to enable your airway to remain open, hence getting a good night’s sleep.
Sleep apnea is common among us, and we should not view it as a weakness. If you have any of the aforementioned signs, it is wise for you to seek medical advice. Furthermore, if the popular and first-line sleep apnea treatment method doesn’t work with you or feels uncomfortable, you can embrace any sleep apnea without a CPAP. With the aid of a specialist, you will get an alternative therapy for the problem that will fit you better.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: “I have been using a CPAP going on 10 years. I have tried many different style of chin straps over that time. This one IS the best out of all. It stays in place and very comfortable. It is well made and at a reasonable price. I would recommend it.”
2)Propping up your head on a pillow while you sleep
This sleep apnea aid is specifically designed to assist you while sleeping on your side. The sleep apnea pillow is designed in a way that adjusts the positioning of your neck and head to hinder your airway passage from getting blocked. Also, the shape of the pillow will hold your head at an angle that will keep your tongue from blocking out the air.
The sleep apnea pillows are affordable and can be purchased online or in brick and motor stores. If you use this pillow, you will increase your breathing and reduce sleep apnea symptoms.
3) Using a nasal decongestant, antihistamine, or saline wash to clear up nasal congestion
You can use saline drops to keep your nasal passage clear. Spray a saline nasal spray 6 to 8 times in each nostril before you go to bed. Nasal drops are not expensive and are a drug-free solution, which offers breathing relief and also helps in reducing sleep apnea occurrences. You can get saline drops over the counter in any pharmacy, and it’s a great option before you embark on buying expensive devices.
Consult your doctor about surgery if you have a deviated septum or another structural problem with your nose.
4) Mouthguards and Oral Devices
Mandibular advancing devices (MADs) are oral devices that resemble sports mouthguards and work in the same way as snoring mouthpieces. They are especially adjusted by sleep apnea dentists to move the lower jaw forward and open the wider respiratory tract during sleep. Many of these devices are adjustable because they are often made of plastic or silicone. Some have hinges, which means that you can open your mouth with the device still in place. Although Oral Sleep Apnea devices can be a simple and cost-effective alternative to a CPAP, they can cause dental displacement and temporary mandibular joint pain (TMJ).
5) Winx Sleep Therapy System, a new sleep apnea treatment without a mask
This is an alternative to sleep apnea, especially if you have a BMI of less than 40kg/m2. Furthermore, if you can easily breathe through your nose, and you are under 18, Winx Sleep Therapy is one of the critical alternative treatments for sleep apnea. This means treating sleep apnea works by exerting a negative force on your mouth cavity, thus drawing the palate and uvula forward. This keeps your tongue staunch and opens the air channels wider. If you have a lung disorder or feeble teeth, this method is unsuitable for you.
This comes in form of measured holes. When you are breathing in it opens up and you can breathe in comfortably. During breathing out, the holes shut up and air through minute pores is directed out through your nose. This concentrates some positive pressure in to the nose which widens the airway during the subsequent inhalation. It is a significant cpap mask, especially when you are on the move. However, if you have acute respiratory or grave heart disease, Provent is not suitable for you.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: “My wife uses these to help with her apnea. Come in handy so I can get some sleep too.”
7) Weight loss
When you are overweight or obese, fat can settle around your neck and throat. During sleep, this additional tissue can block the flow of air and cause sleep apnea. Losing only 10 percent of your body weight can improve the symptoms of sleep apnea. It can even cure the condition. Losing weight is not easy. With the help of your doctor, you can find the right combination of dietary changes and exercise techniques to make a difference with your OSA. If diet and exercise are not enough to help you lose weight, you may be a candidate for bariatric surgery.
This means of treatment acts in the same way as CPAP. It mainly pushes air towards the palate in the throat and thus acts as a valve that keeps your air openings open. It differs from CPAP in that it uses two pressures. It has a lower inhalation pressure and a lower exhalation pressure. It is also ideal if you have lung problems. Previously and still today, this is good treatment for sleep apnea without a CPAP.
9) Sleep Apnea Surgery
There are several surgical procedures that can be performed to reduce or eliminate sleep apnea. Procedures can be grouped into those aimed at the soft palate or other parts of the respiratory tract, such as the tongue. The type of sleep apnea surgery that will be most effective for you depends on the structures that cause your sleep apnea and block your breathing during sleep. In children, surgery (usually tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy) is a first-line option for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), while sleep apnea surgery is usually a second-line treatment in adults.
Soft Palate Procedures
Soft palate procedures are the most common sleep apnea surgeries. They include uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPP) and newer procedures, such as expansion sphincter pharyngoplasty or lateral pharyngoplasty, which some studies have shown to be better than traditional UPP in some studies.
Hypopharyngeal sleep apnea surgeries include radio frequency of the tongue, genioglossus advancement, hyoid suspension, and partial glossectomy. They can be performed alone or in combination with soft palate procedures.
Jaw Advancement Surgery
Also known as maxilomandibular advance or bimaxillary advance, this sleep apnea surgery is another CPAP alternative that moves the jaw forward to facilitate breathing.
Hypoglossal Nerve Stimulation
Hypoglossus nerve stimulation is a newer therapy that involves stimulation of the nerve that controls the movement of the tongue. A system is placed inside the body during surgery. When the system turns on during sleep, stimulation of the hypoglossus nerve moves the tongue forward to open the respiratory space in the throat.
This outpatient surgical procedure uses inserted coffee-straw-like pieces inserted into the roof of the mouth. The result is a stiffening of this area, which reduces collapse of the airway.
10) Throat and Mouth Exercises
Throat and mouth exercise routines for sleep apnea help to strengthen the muscles in the oropharynx. The oropharynx involves the mouth, upper throat, and tongue and aids in breathing, eating and talking.
Sleep specialists often use throat and mouth exercises, also known as oropharyngeal or orofacial exercises, to correct breathing treatments during the night. Orthodontists and dentists use these exercises to toughen the muscles in the throat and the mouth and also to treat problems with alignment.
The benefit of this exercise is that it is inexpensive, risk-free, non-evasive and reduces sleep apnea.
11) Lifestyle changes
Positional Sleep Therapy
Sleep on your side. This position facilitates the entry of air into the lungs.
Avoid alcohol. A few glasses of wine or beer before going to bed can relax the muscles of the upper respiratory tract and make breathing difficult, which can disturb sleep.
Exercise often. Regular aerobic activity can help you lose extra weight, which makes breathing difficult. Exercise can also help reduce the severity of sleep apnea.
Relieve congestion. Take a nasal decongestant or antihistamine to help open your nasal passages if they are clogged.
Don’t smoke. In addition to its other harmful effects on your health, smoking cigarettes worsen OSA by increasing swelling of the respiratory tract.
Using herbal treatments for sleep apnea is a lot more cost-effective, less invasive, safer, and healthier compared to chemical or artificial treatments.
One herb that has a soothing effect is lavender; you can spray it in a mist form on your bed, use it in oil form on your body or drink it as tea.
For decades, herbal tea has been used to promote quality sleep. Five of the most common teas that can act as sleep apnea solutions without a CPAP include chamomile tea, valerian tea, sleepy time tea, catnip tea and hops tea. If you love sweet tea, you can put a teaspoon of honey in these teas.
One of the new methods of treating sleep apnea is through singing therapy. The main aim of singing therapy is to toughen your vocal chords and the breathing muscles that are in your mouth, nose, and throat. If the mouth, nose and throat muscles are weak, they can tend to block your airway passage.
Singing therapy exercise includes placing your tongue against a hard plate and reading the vowels as hard as you can and singing them loudly for 20 minutes per day. When your muscles become stronger, they will allow more oxygen in your airway passage, which means fewer sleep apnea incidents.
In addition to treating your sleep apnea, you should also find ways to minimize your stress. Of course, one of the best ways to reduce stress is to sleep a whole night, so if you ignore your sleep apnea, treat it will help — sleep apnea and stress are like two opposing forces that keep you awake at night
stress can have harmful effects on your health
Playing the digeridoo often is an effective sleep apnea alternative for OSA. With the didgeridoo, you use a circular breathing style, which helps in the improvement of upper airway muscles. Hence, they lessen obstructive sleep apnea occurrences and also reduce the sleepiness during the day caused by lack of sleep in the night.
Didgeridoo therapy involves breathing air via your nose and breathing out through your mouth using your cheeks and tongue. Your lips will vibrate, producing a sound similar to a didgeridoo. Regular use of the didgeridoo will reduce instances of sleep apnea and snoring.
What to do while traveling
A CPAP machine can be a pain to carry with you on an airplane. Besides, you have to clean it while you’re away. While you can buy a smaller CPAP travel machine, here are a few less cumbersome ways to manage the OSA when you travel.
- Use an oral device. It is much smaller, more portable and easier to clean than a CPAP machine.
- Try nasal valve therapy (Provent). This most recent treatment consists of a valve that enters the nostrils and is held in place with adhesive tape. On exhalation, the valve creates resistance in the back of the throat that keeps the airways open. Provent is small and disposable, so it travels easily, but insurance usually does not cover the cost.
- Take your own pillow. Hotel pillows may be too soft to properly hold the head and neck while you sleep, making breathing difficult at night.
- Bring a reserve of decongestants or antihistamines. These drugs relieve nasal congestion.
- Bring a tennis ball or a pair of rolled socks. Pin it on the back of your pajamas to prevent you from rolling on your back while you sleep.
- Pack the correct wires. It has an extension cable so that any machine you need at night is easily at hand. If you are traveling abroad, do not forget about the necessary output adapters.
CPAP is the standard treatment for OSA, but it is not the only treatment. If you have tried a CPAP device, and it did not work for you, ask your doctor for other options, such as oral devices or surgery.
In addition to taking OSA treatment, try to maintain healthy habits. Losing weight, exercising regularly, and quitting smoking can help you get a more restful sleep.