CPAP machines are the sleep apnea treatment most people are aware of. You probably know at least one person with one of these big, noisy machines in their home. For some people with sleep apnea, CPAP machines really are the best option. However, they are not the only means of treating and managing sleep apnea. Other treatments may not be so big, obvious, and well-known, but they do exist. Here's a look at a few of them.
The sleep apnea treatment most similar to CPAP is a BPAP machine. These devices help push air into your lungs. When you take a breath, the machine sends air into your lungs, helping them to inflate more fully. This is different from a CPAP machine, which constantly sends pressure into your airways, regardless of whether you're breathing in and out. Basically a BPAP makes sure every breath you take really fills your lungs and is worth it. BPAP machines work well for many patients who don't get much benefit from a CPAP machine. They tend to be quieter, too.
In mild cases of sleep apnea, your doctor may want you to simply sleep with an oxygen line under your nose. This can deliver a small trickle of oxygen into your airways, increasing the amount of oxygen you take in while you sleep without really affecting your breathing patterns. The oxygen tube is pretty non-intrusive, and most people adapt to sleeping with it very quickly. This alone, however, won't generally treat more serious cases.
Another common approach, even for people with more serious sleep apnea, is to have a specialized oral device made by a dentist. The device is designed to hold your mouth open in a specific way that makes you better able to keep breathing through the night. It can take a little time for you to adapt to wearing the oral device, but once you do, you won't even notice it's there. Sometimes, this approach may be combined with some supplemental oxygen. If you sleep with a partner and want to avoid noisy CPAP or BPAP machines, wearing an oral appliance is a good, silent solution to discuss with your doctor and dentist.
While CPAP can be used to treat many cases of sleep apnea, it is far from the only option for managing this condition. Explore your options, and discuss them with a medical professional who knows your case.