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Are There Alternatives to CPAP?

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a condition which affects millions of individuals. While not entirely uncommon, OSA can cause a multitude of health issues if left untreated over time. Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and even stroke have been known to occur.

CPAP alternatives CPAP alternatives

Every day, you’ll feel the effects of OSA -- lack of energy, feeling of malaise, trouble concentrating.

This is why those who suspect that they may be suffering from this condition will undergo a sleep test to obtain an accurate diagnosis. Assuming that you have been diagnosed with some level
of obstructive sleep apnoea, you will require treatment to get your breathing under control whilst you sleep.

it is quite common to be prescribed a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) apparatus. However, depending on your condition, you may be a candidate for potentially effective alternatives.

Why do Some Individuals Experience Issues with CPAP?

We need to point out that CPAP machines are by far the most effective ways to treat obstructive sleep apnoea. Still, issues can arise from time to time which will make it difficult to experience its associated benefits. A handful of examples include:

  • Physical reasons that might make it difficult to receive the proper level of airway pressure.
  • A mask that is unable to fit snugly over the nose and mouth.
  • A dry nose and throat as a result of the increased air pressure.
  • The inability to tolerate the machine or to obtain a sound night of sleep when it is functioning.

The good news is that doctors and sleep professionals will normally be able to provide you with a number of alternatives. Let us now examine your options in greater detail.

Oral Appliance Therapy

This method consists of a mouthpiece that is used to change the position of your lower jaw by moving it slightly forward.
The main intention here is to cause your airway to expand. Thus, your body will receive more oxygen.

An appliance known as a Mandibular Advancement Device will be worn much in the same way as a common mouth guard. As each unit is moulded around the dimensions of your mouth, discomfort is rarely an issue. This might also be a useful option when camping or travelling, as it can be difficult to transport and use a CPAP during such situations.

Those who are unfamiliar with this method are normally provided a trial device in order to better determine its efficacy. This will allow you to see if it is able to produce the desired results.

You will also be happy to learn that Mandibular Advancement Devices are cost-effective options if you cannot afford a CPAP. These devices can last for several years at a time if cared for properly. Keep in mind that this therapy tends to be more effective for those who suffer from mild forms of sleep apnoea.

Learn about the Provent nasal device:

Check the range of oral devices we offer:

Positional Therapy

It is a well-known fact that sleeping on your back can worsen the effects of sleep apnoea due to the effects of gravity upon the airway. This is why side sleeping is often recommended. Keep in mind that sleeping on your side is not likely to eliminate the effects of OSA, but it still can alleviate many of the associated symptoms.

We must likewise mention that those who have been diagnosed with a normal AHI (Apnoea-Hypopnoea) index should try this method. A physician or a sleep specialist will be able to determine if side sleeping is a viable option to consider.

Somnibel Positional Trainer is a new product now available: https://www.cpap.co.uk/somnibel-positional-sleep-therapy.html

Playing the Didgeridoo

Although this might initially appear to be more of a myth than a reality, there are actually a handful of medical studies which have found that playing the didgeridoo (a wind instrument) before going to sleep can have beneficial effects if you suffer from a mild form of sleep apnoea.

The theory behind this observation arises from the fact that types of OSA can be caused by weak muscles found within the lining of the neck. Playing this type of wind instrument is able to strengthen these areas, allowing your airway to remain
open for longer periods of time when resting.

Once again, it should be stated that this is no replacement for a CPAP. It still might be able
to produce viable results as long as your partner or neighbours do not mind a bit of music during the evening.

Weight Loss

This is a well-known fact and yet, it should still be emphasised before moving on. There are certain cases of OSA which can be addressed (or even cured altogether) by losing weight through the proper levels of diet and exercise.

Excessive fat around the neck - as well as a greater amount of pressure upon the airway - will often exacerbate the symptoms of OSA, so it only stands to reason that lowering your body mass index (BMI) is a good idea.

If you have been suffering from obesity, it is always wise to speak with a nutritionist or a dietary specialist to learn more about your options.


Acupuncture has been known to alleviate the symptoms associated with many chronic conditions and it is thought that manual techniques could have a significant impact upon your obstructive sleep apnoea.

Chinese clinical trials have pointed to some positive effects although the NHS does not currently recognise this practice as an effective CPAP alternative. Although research has yet to provide concrete results, acupuncture could be an interesting option to explore further; particularly if you have used it in the past.

Surgical Procedures

Surgery is often considered to represent a last resort if all of the methods mentioned above have failed to produce satisfactory results. However, it is critical to mention that surgery is not always successful and that you will
likely suffer from a significant amount of discomfort following any procedure.

One of the most common methods is to employ a rather long-winded technique known as a uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP). Without delving into overly technical details, this procedure essentially involves the widening of your airway.
Certain tissues such as the soft palate and your tonsils may be removed during this process.

This is a rather complicated process and as with any type of surgery, there are certain risk factors such as infections once it has been completed. It can also be extremely difficult to swallow. This is why surgery is not frequently recommended by the National Health Service. It is extremely prudent to speak with a trained professional if you are considering this option, as you should always be aware of the associated risks.

Choosing the Right CPAP Alternative

The efficacy of these recommendations will depend upon the severity of your obstructive sleep apnoea. After all, mild cases can often benefit from a handful of lifestyle changes -- or the use of devices such as oral appliance therapy.

In order to make the best decision possible, be sure to carefully weigh each alternative as well as to speak with your doctor. He or she will be able to shed some light upon which could provide noticeable results.

To order the Intus At-Home Sleep Test: https://www.sleeptest.co.uk/product/in-home-sleep-test/

To shop for the highest-quality selection of CPAP devices (and Oral Devices): https://www.cpap.co.uk/shop.html

Author: Jenny Hall

About author: Jenny Hall is a clinical manager at Baywater Healthcare. She has extensive specialist clinical experience from Regional Nurse Adviser through to Senior Nurse Adviser, Service Lead and Contract Manager. She has provided leadership for the Regional Nurse Advisers ensuring best practice, implementation of National Guidance and Clinical Governance. Ms. Hall has worked with Baywater Healthcare since 2013, with leadership responsibility in delivering Home Oxygen and Long-Term Conditions services. Her clinical team focuses on delivering services closer to home which offer the NHS value with optimum clinical outcomes. Previously, Ms. Hall provided leadership to Regional Nurse Advisors with Air Products, a company providing home oxygen services to Wales, East Midlands and North London. She has served as a Senior COPD National Trainer and Nurse Adviser COPD Response with Innovex, ensuring highest competencies were maintained and best practices delivered. Ms. Hall has a Ba Honours Degree as a Registered General Nurse from Oxford Brookes University and MSc Health Studies from Staffordshire University. She completed Respiratory Education and Training Courses and the Edinburgh Sleep Course. Jenny Hall’s LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jenny-hall-34331b60/

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