Restful sleep isn’t easy for patients with sleep apnea.
If you have sleep apnea, you understand what it feels like to wake up exhausted day after day.
But imagine this scenario. You finally go to your doctor to discuss your treatment options. Your doctor prescribes a CPAP machine. You take the machine home, hook it up, fit it to your face, and then turn the lights off to get some sleep.
You’re excited that you’re finally going to get a great night’s sleep but that excitement soon vanishes when you’re struck with a full-fledged panic attack.
This is not an uncommon experience for sleep apnea patients with claustrophobia, some of whom have seeked CPAP alternative treatments from my Calgary dental office.
Some patients have phobic reactions that are so strong they’ve started taking sleeping pills to get to sleep.
However, sleeping pills are not the answer. In fact, it’s counterproductive to patients with sleep apnea. Instead, these patients should try a sleep apnea treatment without CPAP.
Why sleeping pills are not a great idea for sleep apnea patients
I understand how difficult it must be to have claustrophobia and the resulting anxiety. I get it too. Patients in this situation often have two things going against them – the mask and the darkness of the room. Those two factors together can easily lead to panic.
Some of the symptoms that result from panic due to claustrophobia can mimic sleep apnea symptoms. They include:
- Accelerated heart rate, along with high blood pressure
- Dry mouth
- Choking sensation
- Difficulty breathing.
And while I understand why patients with sleep apnea would take sleeping pills to get some relief, it is not the best course of action. Why not?
Many people end up removing their CPAP mask in the middle of the night without realizing it. Sleep relaxes the muscles of the throat, which is one thing that contributes to their sleep apnea. If you add sleeping pills on top of it, the muscles are even more relaxed and it can be difficult to wake up if you stop breathing.
This can happen even with a mild sleeping pill. The situation can be life-threatening.
Treating sleep apnea isn’t an option – it’s a must
If you have sleep apnea, you know that it is a serious condition that requires treatment. Left untreated, the condition can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, heart attack, and diabetes. And even without sleeping pills, it’s a life-threatening condition simply because you stop breathing multiple times each night.
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If you have claustrophobia, it’s important to note that you might put off seeking treatment or wearing a CPAP mask.
Fortunately, you have alternatives. There is a sleep apnea treatment without CPAP that you can get from a neuromuscular-focused dentist like myself here in Calgary. CPAP machines are not the only answer for sleep apnea.
Yes, there’s a sleep apnea treatment without CPAP
Each sleep apnea treatment I offer will safely and effectively treat your condition. Dental sleep appliances are non-invasive nor does it need medication. So, if your doctor has recommended surgery or the CPAP to see an improvement in your symptoms, you might want to try dental appliances first.
The oral appliances that I have made help to move both the jaw bone and the tongue forward when you sleep. Instead of relaxing into the back of the throat and obstructing your airway, oxygen will have free passage into your lungs.
The appliances fit you specifically. I don’t believe in one-size-fits-all solutions. Custom-made solutions are always the best because no two bodies are 100% alike.
There are two CPAP alternatives that I offer my patients in my downtown Calgary dentist office. These Dental Sleep Appliances include:
- MicrO2: Patients love the comfort of this appliance, mainly because there’s no bulky plastic on the tongue side of it. Sometimes, people feel like there isn’t enough room in their mouth for their tongue and the appliance. That’s not an ideal feeling for someone with claustrophobia or a gag reflex. This appliance solves that problem.
- SomnoDent: Patients report that this is one of the most comfortable appliances they’ve ever tried. Many have even stopped grinding their teeth at night because of it.
How you’ll know if a dental sleep appliance is for you
Many patients have their first Sleep Test while sleeping at home. Home Sleep Tests (HST) are successful ways to assess Sleep Disturbance issues. But a HST’s can only tell you if you Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). They cannot tell you if you can be successfully treated with a Dental Sleep Appliance. Our testing system has the ability to actually test you for success with a Dental Sleep Appliance without having to BUY a Dental Sleep Appliance.
This is called a “Theragnositic Test” and is unique to the MATRx HST system. MATRx is the only validated polysomnographic test that predicts therapeutic outcome with a custom-fitted oral appliance. We’re one of the few dental offices in Alberta to have the Matrix system on hand. You will be tested and assessed in the comfort of your own home and bed.
Your sleep test will be scored by an Alberta Sleep Physician, licensed to determine your eligibility for CPAP alternatives. Once you’ve received a definitive sleep apnea diagnosis, I can move on and work to build you your own dental sleep oral appliance
Treating your sleep apnea doesn’t have to be an uncomfortable experience
Anyone who has ever had a panic attack knows what a frightful experience it can be. Unfortunately, claustrophobic patients can be subject to anxiety attacks every single night, all because of a treatment that should help them.
Sleep apnea is a dangerous condition, and patients should get treatment right away. But there has to be a better way. Claustrophobic patients shouldn’t have to take sleeping pills or hear that they need to work through their anxiety.
In Calgary, CPAP isn’t the only successful sleep apnea treatment. There are CPAP alternatives that can be just as effective as a traditional CPAP machine.
If you suffer from sleep apnea and claustrophobia, you have options that will give you a good night’s sleep without any anxiety.
Would you like more information about our dental sleep oral appliances? Contact my office today to schedule a consultation and we can discuss what’s best for your needs.
Dr. Curtis Westersund DDS; sleep apnea focused dentist, dentist Calgary