The CPAP Alternative for Sleep Apnea

Problems with breathing during sleep usually start many years, if not decades before the patient is motivated to seek answers to the question:  “What’s really going on here”!?

The most common 1st sign of a sleep apnea is snoring. Snoring is most always ignored by the patient for years until many of the other medical conditions associated with untreated sleep apnea start affecting the quality of the patients daily life or their regular sleep partner does more than just complain.

Snoring is the first sign that the airway is being compromised and oxygen is not getting into the lungs and therefore the brain.  Untreated snoring, over the course of time, leads to sleep apnea.

Please read below how a young mother of three describes her life with undiagnosed sleep apnea. Though she had been snoring ” for as long as I can remember”, it wasn’t until being diagnosed with high blood pressure, placed on medication and experiencing daily fatigue, which affected her family life, that she was motivated to get answers. Finally getting that answer, she goes on to describe how she struggled to comply with the recommended treatment: continuous positive airway pressure, commonly referred to as CPAP.

Now she had yet another problem…CPAP, and had to go looking for answers again! Please read the letter she sent to our office after completing oral appliance therapy.

I just want to tell you how much oral appliance therapy has made a difference in my life.

For as long as I can remember, I had a difficult time going to sleep and staying asleep. As I would start to doze off, my snoring and stifled breathing would jolt me awake.  Once asleep, I would often wake in the middle of the night from the same thing….snoring and NOT BREATHING!

About two years ago, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure and put on medication.  At one of my check-ups, I complained to my doctor about being tired all the time.  She ordered a sleep study for me because she suspected sleep apnea as a probable cause for my fatigue and hypertension.  The sleep study proved that I did in fact have sleep apnea.  Then I was given a bulky CPAP mask and machine to use for sleeping.  The mask was awful! I had to sleep on my back to keep it from shifting on my face, the hose would squeak when I moved, and I had to set my alarm clock to go off early so I could take it off before my husband woke up (there was no way I was going to let him see me in that thing – talk about a romance killer!) Worst of all, it didn’t help. I could never get comfortable enough with it to get a good night’s rest and would often give up and take it off in the middle of the night.

On the day of my first appointment with you, I woke up tired with a horrible headache.  Still groggy, I wandered to the kitchen and ate a high fat/high carbohydrate breakfast as I typically did and had my morning “cocktail” of a 64 ounce Diet Coke and two Tylenol.  When my two older kids left for school, I laid on the couch wishing I could go back to sleep while my four year-old watched cartoons.

My husband drove me to your office because driving the busy freeways made me panic.  Then, while filling out forms in your waiting room, I ate two pieces of lemon pound cake that had been set out for your patients – even though I wasn’t hungry. All in all, it was shaping- up to be a typical day for me.

When I met you and we discussed all the negative ways in which sleep apnea and sleep deprivation can affect a person’s life, I was amazed at how many of those things described me.  I was always tired, was plagued by insomnia, ate junk food all day and couldn’t manage my weight. I panicked when driving, and I was often irritable with my family.  I desperately wanted to get help so that I could improve the quality of my life.

About a month later, I brought my oral appliance home and tried it for the first time.  When I went to bed, it took me about 15 minutes to fall asleep.  When I woke in the morning, I felt refreshed. I asked my husband if I had snored that night (although I was always aware of my loud snoring and would often wake myself up from the noise) and he said I was quiet all night.  After about five days of wearing the appliance I was completely used to it.

Now, I put it on just before bed and fall asleep within minutes. These days I wake up ready to start each day with plenty of energy, I am aware and alert enough to care about what I eat when I am hungry.  My morning Diet Coke and Tylenol is a thing of the past.  I have lost 16 pounds.

At my last check-up, my blood pressure was normal and if it is normal at my next check-up, my doctor is taking me off my medication. I can drive anywhere without having major panic attacks.  Best of all, I am more patient with my family and my four year old now spends his days with me instead of SpongeBob SquarePants!

When I think back to how I felt on that morning of our first visit (and for so many mornings for years before that) compared to how I feel now, I cannot believe it! I am healthy and vibrant and rested.  I have all the energy I need for my busy life and my family and I happily greet each day.  Thank you, Dr. Fritzsche and your wonderful staff, for helping me to have a better life.~ Talley H.

Most patients that suffer with sleep apnea don’t realize all the ways it has been robbing the quality of their lives until they are successfully treated.  They have forgotten what a good nights sleep feels like and attribute their problems with aging, stress, overwork and diet.

At The Center for Sleep & TMJ Disorders,  we provide the answers to the many questions our patients have and provide the solutions that they can actually use, regularly & comfortably.

Please read and listen to what other patients have had to say about their journey in finding the answers to their unique situations, by clicking on Patient Stories.

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Posted in: CPAP, CPAP Alternative, Obesity, Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Oral Appliance Therapy, Recommended Therapies, Sleep Apnea Symptoms, Sleep Disorders, Snoring

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