When you stop breathing periodically in your sleep, you may have a condition called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
As the most common form of sleep apnea, this condition develops when air flow is constricted due to a narrowing of airways in your throat. This also causes snoring.
Such a situation sets you up for a lack of oxygen, which can have both short-term and long-term health consequences.
One traditional treatment method for OSA is continuous positive airway pressure therapy, better known as CPAP. This comes in the form of a machine and hoses that attach to a mask you wear at night. The goal is to ensure that your body gets enough oxygen while you sleep.
Still, CPAP machines aren’t foolproof, and some users may find the masks and hose attachments difficult to sleep with.
In response to these types of consumer issues, some companies have introduced micro-CPAP machines that purportedly offer the same benefits for OSA treatment with fewer parts.
While these miniature versions of CPAP machines may help with snoring and some air flow, their effectiveness as a legitimate treatment option for OSA hasn’t been confirmed.
CPAP therapy doesn’t work for everyone with obstructive forms of sleep apnea.
Part of this has to do with the discomfort some people experience while using the equipment, including noise and restricted movement during sleep.
Others may find the cleaning and care of the parts to be a hassle.
Micro-CPAP machines are designed to help remedy such issues.
One company claims that up to 50 percent of traditional CPAP users stop using these devices within a year. The hope is that miniature versions of CPAP therapy, which use micro blowers attached to your nose only, will help.
To date, micro-CPAP machines aren’t FDA approved. Yet the makers of these devices claim they have benefits similar to that of a traditional CPAP, while also offering the following:
Traditional CPAP works with a mask that’s attached to an electric machine via hoses. A micro-CPAP, which isn’tattached to a machine, will likely make less noise while you try to sleep. The question is whether it’s as effective for treating OSA as more traditional methods.
Fewer sleep disruptions
Being connected to a CPAP machine can make it difficult to move around in your sleep. You might even wake up several times during the night because of this.
Since micro-CPAPs are cordless, these could in theory create fewer sleep disruptions overall.
The makers of Airing, a cordless and maskless micro-CPAP, claim that their devices eliminate snoring. These devices attach to your nose with the help of buds to keep them in place while they create pressure in your airways.
However, the claims surrounding decreased snoring — or the complete elimination of it — requires further scientific evidence.
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Airing is the company behind the first micro-CPAP device. The company reportedly started raising money for funding, yet it hasn’t been able to obtain FDA approval.
However, according to Airing’s website, the company believes the process will be abbreviated because the device doesn’t “provide a new treatment.”
So Airing is exploring a 510(k) clearance to get the device on the market. This is an FDA option that companies sometimes use during preclearance. Airing would still have to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of the micro-CPAP to similar devices in accordance to law.
Perhaps another drawback is the lack of clinical evidence to support micro-CPAP machines for sleep apnea. Until these are clinically tested, it’s difficult to determine whether a micro-CPAP is just as effective as a traditional CPAP.
When left untreated, OSA can become a life threatening condition.
A doctor will confirm OSA if you exhibit symptoms, such as daytime drowsiness and mood disorders. They will also likely order tests that measure your air flow and heart rate during your sleep.
Traditional treatment for OSA can include one or more of the following options:
Traditional CPAP therapy is one of the first-line treatments for OSA.
CPAP works by using air pressure via hoses attached between a machine and mask to help keep your airways open so that you keep breathing while you’re asleep.
This helps to ensure that you’re getting enough airflow during your sleep despite the underlying causes of blocked airways.
Surgery is a last-resort treatment when CPAP therapy doesn’t work. While there are many surgical options for sleep apnea available, a doctor will choose a procedure that aims to open up your airways.
Some of the options include:
- tonsillectomy (removal of your tonsils)
- tongue reduction
- stimulation to the hypoglossal nerve (the nerve that controls tongue movement)
- palatal implants (implants in the soft palate of the roof of your mouth)
Whether you choose CPAP therapy or surgery, lifestyle changes can complement your OSA treatment plan.
There’s a strong link between OSA and excess body weight. Some experts recommend losing weight to treat OSA if your body mass index (BMI) is 25 or higher. In fact, it’s possible for some people to cure OSA with weight loss alone.
Your doctor will also likely recommend the following:
- regular exercise
- quitting smoking
- avoiding the use sleeping pills and sedatives
- nasal decongestants, if needed
- a humidifier for your bedroom
- sleeping on your side
- avoiding alcohol
While Airing is still working to get its micro-CPAP devices approved by the FDA, there appears to be imitation devices available online. It’s important to follow a doctor’s treatment plan, especially if you are undergoing therapy for OSA.
Curing sleep apnea involves a combination of treatment and lifestyle changes — something that no device can offer alone.