An effective solution with intrinsic challenges
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Manufactured by ResMed, the AirSense device is a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine used to treat sleep apnea. The CPAP, a device with a mask worn during sleep, is very (99 percent) effective at maintaining airflow and reducing or eliminating the interrupted breathing that is caused by sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is associated with a number of cardiovascular problems, including high blood pressure, stroke, atrial fibrillation, and congestive heart failure. OSA is also linked to Type 2 diabetes and other metabolic disorders.
Exploring the Pros and Cons of the ResMed CPAP Machine
There are a few pros to the ResMed CPAP Machine to consider. It is extremely quiet, hardly making any noise with a proper mask seal. The same filters, standard tubing, and masks can be used as were used with other ResMed devices. The heated tubing differs in design and is not interchangeable. It comes with a nice, quality bag for travel with convenient pockets and compartments.
This bag may be slightly small if you use a large full-face mask. There is an option to turn on supply reminders that appear on the display to keep you on schedule for equipment replacement. There is an automatic ramp function that is able to detect the regularity of breathing and turns itself up once it notes a transition toward a sleep-assocated pattern.
The biggest challenge to ResMed’s CPAP success in treating sleep apnea has been compliance with treatment — wearing the mask. Patients are often uncomfortable using the device, especially at the beginning of treatment, and this reluctance can lead to inconsistent use, or abandonment of the therapy altogether.
New research indicates that some OSA patients may have another treatment option
Researchers at The Netherlands’ University of Groningen compared treatment outcomes for OSA patients using CPAP and oral appliance therapy. They found oral appliance therapy to be an effective alternative to CPAP for treating sleep apnea.
Oral appliance therapy (such as the Stop Snoring System from ZenSleep) involves dental devices such as a mouth guard (mandibular advancement device / MAD) or tongue retaining device (TRD). Worn during sleep, these devices work to keep the airway open.
The difference between those two dental devices is that the MAD works by holding your jaw in a slightly forward position to keep your airway clear (which can be an uncomfortable feeling for many patients), while the TRD works by holding your tongue forward. The concept will likely remind you of a pacifier, but there is only a small bulb that can be seen, when your mouth is closed.
Researchers conducted a two-year follow up to a clinical trial that compared the effectiveness of CPAP and oral appliance therapy. During the two-year study period, researchers assessed the treatment progress of 103 patients with OSA. They used several standard measurements to track patients’ progress in treatment, including polysomnography and a self-reported sleepiness scale.
The severity of OSA is categorized by the frequency of episodes of interrupted breathing, as ranked on a scale known as the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI). For the purpose of this study, researchers defined “successful” treatment as a reduction of AHI to less than five episodes per hour, or a reduction of at least 50 percent from subjects’ initial AHI readings.
Their analysis found that oral appliance therapy is an effective alternative to CPAP for some sleep apnea patients:
- For subjects with OSA ranging from mild to severe, researchers found similar levels of success in both CPAP and oral appliance therapy.
- Both oral appliance therapy and CPAP resulted in significant improvements to patients sleep quality, as well as to their levels of daytime sleepiness. Both treatments also showed similar reductions to levels of depression and anxiety, conditions frequently reported by sleep apnea patients.
- Both treatments were effective in reducing frequency of interrupted breathing episodes—but CPAP was found more effective than oral appliance therapy at lowering AHI. CPAP also demonstrated greater effectiveness in raising blood oxygen levels than oral appliance therapy.
Researchers concluded that oral appliance therapy was a viable treatment option for patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea.
Update: The #1 oral appliance therapy company in the United States, ZenSleep, is currently offering a buy one get one free sale on their 5-in-1 Stop Snoring oral appliance therapy. You can learn more here.
Compliance has long been an issue with CPAP therapy. Intermittent and inconsistent use of the device undermines its effectiveness. To receive the full benefits of CPAP therapy, it must be used consistently — and for many patients, that has proved difficult.
Still, there’s little question that when used correctly and consistently, CPAP can be tremendously effective in treating obstructive sleep apnea, especially severe cases. For people with severe OSA, CPAP will likely remain the standard treatment.
But broadening treatment options for less severe sleep apnea is very good news. People with mild and moderate OSA — especially those who have difficulty with CPAP — may consider using oral appliance therapy to manage their condition.
If you are interested in exploring a oral device solution that is comfortable, effective, durable, and safe, learn more about ZenSleep at www.ZenSleep.com.