When you have sleep apnea, you need help fast. Losing that much sleep can create all manner of problems for you. In the short term, you’ll probably be irritable, accident-prone, and have trouble focusing on work. Suffer from sleep apnea enough, and you can easily face depression, weight gain, heart disease, and hypertension.
One method of treating sleep apnea is the CPAP machine. However, these devices often have problems of their own. As they say, sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.
What Does A CPAP Machine Do?
CPAP stands for “Continuous Positive Airway Pressure.” Sleep apnea can be caused by your windpipe collapsing while you’re asleep. This sleep apnea machine uses an air pump, hose, and mask to push air into your throat. This keeps a positive pressure in your windpipe, which helps it stay open during sleep. In theory, this means you can get a good night’s sleep finally.
Why CPAP Machines Can Be Bad
As is often the case, good theories can have trouble when they meet reality. Many people have problems using CPAP machines. Here are some reasons why this sleep apnea treatment can be bad for you.
- You can have difficulty falling asleep. The whole point of a CPAP machine is to help get past sleep apnea so you can get the rest you need. The problems is how you have to wear a mask connected to a plastic hose. You can have trouble sleeping with your face in the pillow, and you won’t be able to twist and turn around in bed. Plus, the machine itself makes a fair amount of noise. Many people report not being able to sleep because of the CPAP machine.
- You can wake up feeling nauseous or bloated. In order to keep positive air pressure in your throat, the CPAP machine pushes air into you. Most of that stays in your throat or lungs, but some can seep into your stomach. By the time you wake up in the morning, you could feel bloated by that air. You can even feel nauseous since there’s too much pressure in your stomach.
- You can have problems sneezing and feeling congested in your nose. The air being pushed into you tends to be very dry. Since your nose is connected to your throat, that air can dry out your nose. Your body can overcompensate for this. You wake up and feel congested or have a runny nose. You can also have allergy-like problems with sneezing.
- You can get a sinus infection. Along the same lines, that air can easily leak into your sinus cavities. Your sinuses aren’t supposed to have air pushed in there like that. If this air has any bacteria or germs, these can thrive in the dark, warm, wet sinus cavities. This can lead to sinusitis, an infection in your sinuses.
- The skin around your mouth can get irritated and inflamed. In order to get the benefits of a CPAP machine, you’ll have to wear a mask around your mouth all night long. Straps for it wrap around your head, too. If the mask doesn’t fit just right, it could rub against your skin as you move your head while you sleep. By morning, the skin around your mouth can be red and irritated. While rare, some people have allergic reactions to the mask or its straps.
- You could suffer from dry mouth and a higher risk of cavities. Saliva helps wash away food particles that bacteria need to thrive. All of that dry air pushing past your teeth and tongue can dry out your mouth. Not only can this give you bad morning breath, it can increase your chances of getting a cavity. When there’s no saliva, more food particles are left for bacteria to eat.
- Germs can grow in the CPAP machine and get pumped into your lungs. Many of the problems above are caused by dry air. A solution to that is to add a humidifier to the CPAP machine. However, this can cause another problem: germs. Germs love humid environments. If they start to grow inside your CPAP machine, that means you could be getting germs pumped into your lungs.
Oral Appliances Can Help
At our Nashua, NH dental office, you can get an oral appliance instead. This is similar to a small mouthguard. You wear it inside your mouth when you go to sleep. It shifts your jaw slightly which helps keep your windpipe open without the hose, mask, and risks of CPAP machines. For many people, this oral appliance can make a big difference.
CPAP machines work just fine for lots of people. However, they are not without their risks. If you can get relief by using a small oral appliance, why take those risks? If you are suffering from sleep apnea, call us today at 603-546-7460.