We’ve all heard the cliche about cures that are worse than the disease. Well, that’s actually a true description for many people with mild or moderate sleep apnea who’ve been prescribed CPAP.
Why CPAP Can Make Sleeping Worse
There are good reasons why CPAP is considered the frontline treatment for sleep apnea. It can be very effective–literally a lifesaver for people who are in danger of metabolic, cardiovascular, and psychological threats of sleep apnea. But it is also a treatment that comes along with dozens of nuisances, some of them larger than others, depending on which ones you experience.
Some of the common complaints about CPAP include:
- Skin irritation or itchiness because of the mask
- Restricted movement because of air hose
- Irritation in the eye, nose, and throat
- Gassiness and bloating
CPAP can even combine with various sleep problems to make it even harder to sleep. For example, people with PTSD can experience attacks because of the mask, or might find their insomnia is worse because of the irritations that CPAP induces.
Gauging the Costs and Benefits for CPAP
The secret to getting the best results from CPAP is matching the right people to the right treatment. For CPAP, it’s definitely a better treatment option if you have moderate or severe sleep apnea. In these cases, you are probably being more dramatically affected by your apnea, and your body will immediately respond positively to its improved access to oxygen.
But if you have only mild sleep apnea or are at the lower end of the moderate range, you may find that you’re bothered more by CPAP’s nuisances than you benefit from its treatment.
This will put you in the category of people who find they sleep significantly worse with CPAP than they did before CPAP. In this case, people need to be educated about CPAP alternatives, but if your doctor is like most, they may not help you understand about options other than CPAP.
Give CPAP a Fair Shake
But it’s also important to make sure you are giving your CPAP a fair try. As we’ve said, it can be literally be a lifesaver, so it’s worth some discomfort in the trial period to get an effective sleep apnea treatment that works.
Talk to a CPAP consultant about getting the best fitting mask for you. Maybe try a few to see how each one makes you feel. Try out accessories like humidifiers to see if they help you sleep more comfortably. Join a support group for sleep apnea treatment. Support groups are very effective at helping people adapt to CPAP.
Oral Appliances Help You Avoid CPAP-Related Problems
But if you can’t adapt to CPAP treatment for your sleep apnea, it’s important to seek out an alternative. Oral appliances are a great alternative approach to sleep apnea treatment. They are more comfortable for sleeping, more easily transportable, don’t cause skin irritation, don’t lead to gassiness, and are less likely to trigger attacks of claustrophobia or PTSD. And for many people, they’re as effective as CPAP.