adult woman sleeping with cpap

CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) is used as a first-line treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. It has been proven to be effective at reducing symptoms and risks associated with the condition. It has only one problem: it fails about half of the people that are prescribed it, according to numerous studies.

The failure is simple: CPAP gives no benefit if you don’t use it, and many studies show that the majority of people don’t use it. However, it’s hard to say which people will actually be able to get the benefit of CPAP and which won’t. Here are some of the factors that research shows will influence whether you will comply with CPAP or whether you will abandon it. Make sure  you try to give your CPAP a fair shot before abandoning it.

At the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center in Omaha, we work hard to match people with the sleep apnea treatment that will work for them, whether that’s CPAP or an alternative (of which there are more now than ever). Helping you get the right sleep apnea treatment sooner can mean you get relief months earlier. It may also save you hundreds, even thousands of dollars.

Your Sleep Apnea Symptoms and Relief

In some studies, one of the biggest impacts on compliance is how bothersome their sleep apnea symptoms are. A person with very visible symptoms like morning headaches, daytime sleepiness, and loss of quality of life is more likely to comply with CPAP than someone who is developing coronary artery disease as a result of sleep apnea. Coronary artery disease might be a greater risk, but it’s a less obvious symptom. The drawbacks of CPAP can be very visible, and it’s hard for people to experience present hardships for a future, seemingly illusory gain.

Also important is whether you see the benefits early. People who experience the benefits of CPAP soon after starting treatment are more likely to stick with the treatment than those who may take more time to see the benefits. During the early period of CPAP use, it’s important for an Omaha sleep dentist or doctor to provide encouragement and highlight even marginal gains.

Psychological Factors

CPAP compliance is also impacted by many psychological factors. Studies have highlighted the following reasons for low compliance, but there are many others:

  • Not seeing benefit (which is why visible symptoms play such an important role)
  • Being told to get treatment by someone else rather than seeking it out yourself
  • No cosleeper to enforce compliance
  • Claustrophobia
  • Low income or social position
  • Anxiety or depression

Although it’s been said that people who don’t comply with CPAP do so because they’re just bad at taking medicines or following doctor’s orders, several studies have tested this, and it doesn’t seem to be true. Many people who are good at taking other medications and following structured routines just don’t get used to CPAP, and vice versa. If psychological factors like claustrophobia, anxiety, or depression make it hard to stick to CPAP, your doctor may be able to direct you to help in the Omaha area.

There are also questions about the role of social position on CPAP compliance. While some studies show that race or class likely impacts CPAP compliance, others don’t. The true difference might be the level of support offered by healthcare providers.

Support for Treatment

Another big impact on compliance is how much support you get from your CPAP provider. Help titrating your CPAP, selecting the right mask, and quality follow-up can all make a difference in whether you stick with the treatment or not. It’s important for your doctor to make sure your initial experiences with CPAP are positive, as this can have a profound impact on your long-term sleep apnea compliance.

Understanding the problems with CPAP compliance, more sleep doctors in Omaha are offering aids for compliance, including CPAP support groups and smartphone apps. These can improve compliance.

Side Effects

About 70% of CPAP users experience one or more side effects. These include:

  • Inconvenience
  • Skin irritation and breakouts
  • Poor mask fit
  • Dry airways
  • Airway irritation
  • Awareness of the pump and awakening due to the sound
  • Claustrophobic feelings due to the mask
  • Gassiness and bloating

Although these can lead to poor compliance, they don’t always. It’s often possible for people to overcome these side effects to have a good experience with CPAP, especially with support from their doctor or Omaha sleep dentist.

If CPAP Isn’t Right for You in Omaha

Fortunately, CPAP isn’t the only obstructive sleep apnea treatment available in Omaha. If you try CPAP and find you can’t comply with it, or, based on the factors above you don’t think you’d be able to comply with it, oral appliance therapy offers a good treatment alternative. At the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center in Omaha, we work hard to assess the potential benefits of oral appliance therapy before fitting you with an appliance. Modern imaging of your jaw and airway help us determine whether oral appliance therapy will work for you.

If neither CPAP nor oral appliance therapy seems like a good fit, there are more sleep apnea treatment options than ever, and we can help you find the one that really will work for you.

Whether you’re looking for a treatment alternative or just want to know about all the options available, we can help.

Please call (402) 493-4175 or use our online form to request an appointment at the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center, in north Omaha in North Park.