Obstructive sleep apnea affects around 20 million Americans and can lead to hypertension, heart attack, stroke, depression, muscle pain, fibromyalgia, morning headaches, and excessive daytime sleepiness.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

I NEED HELP WITH MY CPAP MASK!

TOM:

I NEED HELP WITH MY CPAP MASK. I HAVE TRIED SEVERAL BUT HAVE CONTINUOUS PROBLEMS WITH LEAKS AND DRY EYES. THE NASAL PILLOWS WERE AN IMPROVEMENT OVER THE NASAL MASK FOR A WHILE BUT THE QUIT WORKING. I AM NOW USING A FULL FACE MASK WHICK IS OK ON SOME NIGHTS BUT I FEEL WORSE THAN I DID BEFORE CPAP. MY DOCTOR TOLD ME I AM NOT A CANDIDATE FOR AN ORAL APPLIANCE BECAUSE MY APNEA IS SEVERE. I QUIT BREATHING 50 TIMES AN HOUR. I USUALLY MANAGE TO GET AN HOUR OF TWO OF SLEEP BEFORE I GIVE UP ON IT. HELP!

DR SHAPIRA RESPONSE: Tom, I understand your frustration and I commend you on your efforts to comply with treatment. 60% of patients give up on CPAP and that is very dangerous. I suggest that you get a copy of your sleep study and contact a dentist who is experienced in treating sleep apnea. Oral appliances are a comfortable alternative to CPAP and are a first line choice for treatment of mild to moderate sleep apnea according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. They are an acceptable alternative to CPAP for severe sleep apnea when patients do not tolerate or want CPAP treatment.

I advise you to continue to use your CPAP with your appliance until after a sleep study show the it is effective. Recent studies have shown that properly titrated appliances are as effective as CPAP and can be used for severe apnea in many patients. It is vital that a titration sleep study be done to find the ideal position to maintain an open airway.

An appliance that is not properly adjusted is a "POP" or piece of plastic not an effective treatment unless your problem is a congenital lack of plastic.

I frequently see patients who say they tried an appliance and it didn't work. This is usually because the dentist did not choose the right appliance or properly adjust it for effective treatment. Their is both art and science to the field of Dental Sleep Medicine. Many doctors take a single course from a manufacturer of appliances and only have one tool in their belt. When I teach my courses I purposely limit class size to six dentists and their teams to insure that each dentist has a comprehensive understanding of sleep medicine and the role of the dentist. It is also important to understand the basic principles and how different anatomy may demand different types of appliances. I do have my favorits based of effectiveness.

I am frequently asked by dentists what is the best oral appliance. The answer is that it depends on many factors and different appliance are best for different patients.

Surgery is also an option for treating sleep apnea but is no longer considered a first line treatment because of high morbidity and poor results. I stronly suggest you avoid soft palate surgery ie UP3, LAUP, Somnoplasty, Pillars. Tongue reduction is a more useful surgery but can be brutal. If contemplating base of tongue surgery somnoplasty is a good choice but several procedures will probably be necessary. Nasal surgery can be helpful but is rarely a cure. It can make both oral appliance therapy and CPAP more effective and comfortable and can improve your quality of life if you live with chronic impaired breathing 24/7.

Bimaxillary advancement or madibular advancement or chin advancement can be very effective but a trial with an oral appliance is recommended prior to surgery to determine the amount of advancement that is necessary. You do not want to go thru traumatic surgery and still need CPAP afterwards.

If you are in the midwest, Illinois or Wisconsin feel free to see me in Chicago, Gurnee, Skokie, Vernon Hills or Schaumburg.
Good Luck Tom

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posted by Dr Shapira at 10:27 PM