Are there alternatives to CPAP?

Woman sleeping in bed

Last updated on November 24th, 2022 at 04:28 pm

What else can be used instead of a CPAP machine?

Experiencing quality sleep can be difficult for those who suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA). Continuous Positive Airway Pressure therapy (CPAP) is the most common form of treatment used to treat Sleep Apnoea.

However, there are alternatives to using a CPAP machine that are more cost-efficient and less intrusive.

Why use an alternative to CPAP?

Issues and side effects can arise, making it difficult to experience the full benefits of using a CPAP machine. 

A handful of examples include:

  • Physical reasons might make receiving the proper level of airway pressure difficult.
  • A CPAP mask that does not fit snugly over the nose and mouth.
  • Air leaks caused by an ill-fitting CPAP mask.
  • dry nose, mouth, and throat due to incorrect air pressure. 
  • Red marks and skin irritation from a CPAP mask.
  • Difficulty getting used to CPAP therapy.
  • The cost of a CPAP machine, CPAP mask, and upkeep. 

The good news is that doctors and Sleep professionals will typically be able to provide you with several alternatives after your OSA is confirmed. 

Mouthguards and Oral Appliance Therapy

An alternative to a CPAP machine is an oral appliance known as a Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD). This option consists of a mouthpiece that changes the position of your lower jaw by moving it slightly forward, which is worn just like a standard mouthguard during the night. These devices are clinically proven to treat Sleep Apnoea and snoring.

The main intention is to cause your airway to expand, providing your body with more oxygen.

Each part is easily moulded around the dimensions of your mouth; discomfort is rarely an issue. 

Please note: These appliances are suitable for those with milder forms of Sleep Apnoea. 

This is a helpful method when camping or travelling, and you’re away from mains power.

These devices can last for several years at a time if cared for properly.

Mandibular Advancement Devices are cost-effective options if you cannot afford a CPAP. Learn about our different oral devices here

The Oniris Mandibular Advancement Device, has a 30-day money-back guarantee if you do not get along with the device.

Positional Therapy

Sleeping on your back can worsen the effects of Sleep Apnoea due to the impact of gravity upon the airway. This is why side sleeping is often recommended. 

Remember that sleeping on your side will not likely eliminate the effects of OSA, but it can still alleviate many associated symptoms.

Those diagnosed with positional Sleep Apnoea should try this method. A physician or a sleep specialist can determine if side sleeping is a viable option to consider.

Somnibel Positional Sleep Therapy Trainer is a small device that sits on your forehead while you sleep. The device Vibrates when you sleep on your back to encourage you to turn back onto your side, preventing breathing pauses. 

You may also find other forms of positional therapy that can be attached to your waist or back to prevent you from sleeping on your back. Intus do not currently provide these options. 

When purchasing the Somnibel, you receive a 30-day satisfaction guarantee or your money back.

Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty Sleep Apnoea surgery

Surgery is often considered a last resort if all the alternatives fail to produce satisfactory results. 

However, it is critical to mention that surgery is not always successful and that you will likely suffer from significant discomfort following any procedure.

One of the most common methods is to employ a rather long-winded technique known as 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 surgery, there are certain risk factors, such as infections, once it has been completed. It can also be extremely difficult to swallow. That is why surgery is not frequently recommended by the National Health Service (NHS).

It is encouraged to speak with a trained professional if you consider this option, as you should always be aware of the associated risks. 

Acupuncture

Acupuncture has been known to alleviate the symptoms associated with many chronic conditions, and it is thought that manual techniques could significantly impact 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. Research has yet to provide concrete results; acupuncture could be an interesting option to explore further if you have used it in the past.

Is there an implant for Sleep Apnoea?

A new treatment for Sleep Apnoea is inspire upper airway stimulation system, which is an artificial implant. The implant detects a person’s breathing pattern and generates mild electrical impulses to keep the airway open.

The device is similar to a pacemaker, and the patient can control it with a remote before sleep.

Natural Alternatives to CPAP therapy

Although CPAP therapy is by far the most effective treatment for OSA, there are some things you can do that will naturally alleviate your symptoms. 

Here are some home remedies to treat Sleep Apnoea without CPAP:

Exercise and weight loss

Sleep Apnoea is most common in those overweight or obese. Excess weight increases the fat around your neck, putting more pressure on your airways. 

Lowering body mass index (BMI) is recommended for those overweight with OSA. Holding excess weight will often increase the symptoms of Sleep Apnoea. Those with a fatter tongue are also at a higher risk of OSA. 

Regular exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight, helping to keep your airways clear.

In some cases, weight loss can eliminate all Sleep Apnoea symptoms (depending on OSA severity), but these symptoms can come back if the weight does. 

If you are obese, it is always wise to speak with a nutritionist or to learn more about your options.

Did you know different foods affect your Sleep?

Yoga  

One of the best ways to incorporate exercise into your day that benefits your Sleep Apnoea is Yoga. 

Yoga does not cure Sleep Apnoea but can help reduce your symptoms as breathing exercises strengthen your airways. Try some of these yoga poses:

  • Cat cow pose
  • Seated twist
  • Locust pose

Yoga also holds benefits to help with back pain, arthritis and stress.

Yoga by the sea
Yoga helps relieve Sleep Apnoea symptoms

Quitting smoking and consuming less alcohol 

Both nicotine and alcohol disrupt your sleep cycle. The nicotine from smoking causes swelling and inflammation in your airway, which can worsen your Sleep Apnoea. Those who smoke are three times more likely to develop Sleep Apnoea than those who don’t smoke. Studies have found those who smoke have a higher Apnoea Hypopnoea Index (AHI) than those who do not. 

Alcohol relaxes your throat muscles, leading to snoring. Alcohol inflames your airways, making breathing difficult while you sleep – causing apnoeas (breathing pauses). Limiting or quitting smoking and alcohol consumption can help manage your OSA.

Can vaping cause Sleep Apnoea? 

Yes, like cigarettes, vapes also deliver nicotine to the body. Therefore you’re still at risk of Sleep Apnoea if you use an e-cigarette. 

Playing the Didgeridoo

Although this might initially appear to be more of a myth than a reality, a handful of medical studies have found that playing the didgeridoo before going to sleep can have beneficial effects if you suffer from a mild form of Sleep Apnea.

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

Once again, it should be stated that this is no replacement for a CPAP machine.

Choosing the right CPAP alternative

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

To make the best decision possible, carefully weigh each alternative and speak with your doctor. They will be able to shed some light upon which could provide noticeable results.

Treating Sleep Apnoea without CPAP is not uncommon; contact us for help and advice.

In-home sleep test for Sleep Apnoea

Take a simple in-home sleep test if you are showing signs of Sleep Apnoea and have not been diagnosed.

Why choose Intus? Because you will receive your results within 7 to 10 working days. Your results include a detailed report from our sleep experts explaining the most effective treatment for you. 

You can find a variety of alternatives to CPAP on our website: intushealthcare.com

Author Danielle Myatt