What is the best solution for sleep apnea?

If a CPAP machine doesn’t do it, then what is the best solution for sleep apnea? Is it a pillow? Lifestyle changes? Or is it all of the above? Most people would agree that continuous positive airway pressure as delivered by a CPAP mask is the best product for sleep apnea. A CPAP machine blows air into the mouth, nose and throat of the patient, keeping his or her airways open while they sleep. Wearing a CPAP mask can help people with sleep apnea to fall asleep faster and wake up less often during the night, as well as control the symptoms of this condition with the resulting benefit for their overall health.
However, many people aren’t thrilled at the prospect of wearing a mask that can be uncomfortable and cumbersome. Consequently, they either give up on CPAP or don’t even try it at all. There are methods for easing into the use of a CPAP machine, but there are other alternatives as well. Some of these alternatives are actually very similar. For example, there are bilevel positive airway (BPAP) and expiratory positive airway pressure (EPAP) devices. The former supplies more pressure when inhaling than when exhaling, while the latter consists of valves that are placed in the nostrils and that use the wearer’s breathing to produce positive airway pressure. 

People who would prefer a more ergonomic and organic way of dealing with sleep apnea might be interested in special pillows. Some of these pillows are designed to enable people to sleep on their sides as opposed to on their backs, in order to reduce the incidence of sleep apnea. Other pillows, known as sleeping wedge pillows, are meant to keep the head raised at night. Pillows and CPAP masks are not mutually exclusive, though. In fact, there are CPAP pillows that decrease mask leaks and reduce pressure on the face. 
What is the best solution for sleep apnea is a question that can be asked to dentists as well as to sleep specialists. There are custom made dental devices –also known as oral appliances- that reposition the lower jaw, tongue, soft palate and uvula, stabilize the lower jaw and tongue, and increase the tongue’s muscle tone, all of which helps to keep the airways open during sleep. Some people find it easier to get used to dental appliances than to CPAP devices, but these items are only recommended for mild cases of sleep apnea, as they are less dependable than continuous positive airway pressure. 
There are instances in which surgery is not so much the best solution for sleep apnea, but the only one, given that it is usually resorted to only when all other treatments have proven unsuccessful. Surgical alternatives for sleep apnea include tissue removal, jaw repositioning, implants, and tracheostomy. The purpose of these procedures is to expand the airways and eliminate blockades. Nasal surgery to remove polyps or straighten a deviated nasal septum, and the removal of tonsils and adenoids may also be entertained. 
Some might suggest that the best possible solution for sleep apnea is to prevent it with a healthy lifestyle that includes shedding excess weight, moderate exercise, and avoiding alcohol and smoking. Other habits that may help to prevent and manage sleep apnea are sleeping on the side or stomach instead of on the back (as we pointed above), and using a saline nasal spray to keep nasal passages open at night. Sleep apnea is somewhat of an anomaly in that drugs are not prescribed for its treatment –at least not by themselves. Acetazolamide, clomipramine, and modafinil are frequently employed simultaneously with CPAP therapy.

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