man laying in bed snoring, illuminated by a blue light

CPAP is a great treatment for sleep apnea. When people use their CPAP machines, they can be confident that they will get essentially full relief from their sleep apnea symptoms. However, that’s exactly the problem. People often don’t use their CPAP Machines. Even though the machine may be life-saving, it’s uncomfortable and inconvenient, and many people experience adverse effects that may include sensations of claustrophobia or breakouts of acne.

The result of not using CPAP can be ongoing dangers of sleep apnea. Since many studies show compliance rates for CPAP may be as low as 40%, it’s critical to make sure the other 60% of people get more appropriate sleep apnea treatment in Detroit that can help them get the results they need.

Ideally, we would want to figure out who is a good candidate for CPAP before starting the treatment, so that people can get appropriate treatment first, without having to go through a prolonged trial with CPAP. Here are some of the factors that contribute to long-term CPAP compliance.

People who don’t think they are good candidates for CPAP should talk to a Detroit sleep dentist about CPAP alternatives.

Sleep Apnea Severity

Probably the biggest factor in CPAP compliance is the severity of your sleep apnea in the first place. The more severe your sleep apnea, the more likely you are to want to stick with your CPAP machine. Multiple studies confirm this association. In fact, one study found that this was the only significant predictor of CPAP compliance.

Remember, sleep apnea severity is generally measured using the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) from your sleep study. The standard sleep apnea classification is:

  • AHI 30 or more: Severe sleep apnea
  • AHI at least 15 but less than 30: Moderate sleep apnea
  • AHI at least 5 but less than 15: Mild sleep apnea
  • AHI less than 5: No sleep apnea or subclinical sleep apnea

Typically, your doctor and/or insurance company will require that you at least try CPAP if you have severe sleep apnea. People with moderate sleep apnea might benefit from trying CPAP, but if you have mild sleep apnea, CPAP probably won’t work out for you.

In that case, consult with a Detroit sleep dentist about oral appliance therapy.

Serious Sleep Apnea Complications

Another factor for CPAP compliance is if you experienced serious complications related to your sleep apnea. For example, one study showed that people who had longer stays in the intensive care unit (ICU) were more likely to stick to their CPAP.

This makes sense. If you have experienced negative consequences related to your sleep apnea, you are more likely to make larger sacrifices to treat it. On the other hand, people who have only minor sleep apnea symptoms, either because their sleep apnea is mild or because it was detected early might see the CPAP as a hassle that’s not worth the trouble.

Consider doing a thought experiment. Weigh the apparent nuisance of CPAP in your mind against the symptoms and complications of sleep apnea. If CPAP doesn’t seem worth it, maybe it’s not, and you should consider CPAP alternatives in Detroit.

Better Daytime Sleepiness at One Month

Here’s a piece of evidence in support of a short CPAP trial: people who experience reduced daytime sleepiness after a month are more likely to stick with CPAP for at least two years. So, if you are on the fence about CPAP and your insurance company will cover a CPAP trial, it might be worth it to try it for at least 30 days and see how it affects your sleepiness. If you’re significantly improved and you don’t experience many side effects, maybe it’s the right treatment for you. If not, that might be the time to talk to a Detroit sleep dentist about oral appliance therapy.

Just make sure you know the terms of the trial. If you don’t adhere to the terms, you might be stuck paying for a CPAP machine you won’t use.

Loud Snoring

Multiple studies show that people who snore loudly are more likely to stick to their CPAP treatment. This might be due in part to the association of loud snoring with more severe sleep apnea. It might also be that people who snore loudly get nightly encouragement to use their CPAP from a sleep partner.

In either case, if you are a loud snorer, you should consider CPAP. We should note, however, that CPAP alternatives like oral appliance therapy, can also improve snoring.

Early Support for CPAP

A big factor in CPAP adherence is how much support you get for the treatment during the early phase. Before you commit to CPAP, find out how much support you’ll get from your sleep doctor, durable medical equipment (DME) provider, or others, as well as how much of that support your insurance will cover.

If you can’t get or can’t afford good early support for CPAP, it might be a good reason to consider a treatment that’s easier to adapt to. Your Detroit sleep dentist will likely provide adequate support for oral appliance therapy, for example.

CPAP Alternatives in Detroit

Now that we understand the limitations of CPAP, many doctors and insurance companies are open to starting people on alternate treatments, so if you don’t feel like CPAP is right for you, you should speak up. Studies show that the people most likely to stick with CPAP are those who get the most visible benefits. In addition, it’s important to factor in your personality and other potential reasons for giving up CPAP when considering treatment.

If you don’t think CPAP is right for you and want to learn more about alternatives like oral appliance therapy in the Detroit area, please call (248) 480-0085  today for an appointment with a sleep dentist at the Michigan Center for TMJ and Sleep Wellness.