Why A CPAP Machine Is Probably Not For You

Do you have sleep apnea? If you can't answer this question, then you don't need a CPAP machine. Short for continuous positive airway pressure, CPAP machines are designed for obstructive sleep apnea. So really, do you need a CPAP machine? This question brings up more questions than it answers.

Sleep Apnea

sleepapSleep apnea occurs when your breathing gets interrupted during sleep. Sleep apnea comes in two flavors: obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea occurs the brain isn't able to signal the correct muscles to breathe as a result of an unstable respiratory control center. CPAP machines were not designed for central sleep apnea. If you have central sleep apnea, then the question is answered. A CPAP machine is not for you.

Most people with sleep apnea experience the other flavor: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This is exactly how it sounds: your breathing is obstructed, or blocked. The most common cause of airway blockage is the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapsing. I have experience with this but it doesn't happen often enough to warrant a CPAP machine. I wake up, often choking on my own saliva. If I can't get back to sleep I can kiss a good night's sleep goodbye. To sum it up, it's not a pleasant experience.

How Do CPAP Machines Work?

CPAP machines prevent your airway from collapsing by providing continuous air pressure into your mouth and lungs. This is an at-home treatment. The cost averages in the $500-$1500 range for a machine. These will include a mask that covers your nose, a mask that covers your nose and mouth, or prongs that fit into your nose. The mask that covers your nose is called Nasal Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (NCPAP) and is the most common type of mask.

CPAP treatment machines offer non-surgical treatment of OSA. This approach gained widespread popularity and is a very common choice of treatment.

Alternative Treatment Options

CPAP machines aren't the only snoring treatment options available. Other available treatment options include mandibular advancement devices (MAD) and tongue retaining devices. These are collectively known as snoring mouthpieces.

Mandibular Advancement Devices (MAD)

madMandibular advancement devices often take on the appearance of the mouth guards used in contact sports like football. The purpose and idea behind them is to reposition your lower jaw in a forward position. This ensures your tongue and palate has a place to rest without obstruction to the airways. These devices use a material called thermoplastic, which is often called boil and bite technology. By heating the device in boiling water and biting into it, you are creating a custom mold of your teeth to ensure the right fit. These devices have pieces for both the upper and lower dental arches and are typically designed to pull the lower jaw forward. Higher priced models are adjustable to provide a more customized fitting.

These devices are far cheaper than CPAP machines. These fall in the overnight oral devices category, are not electronic, and don't have face masks. They have other side effects, such as time to get used to having your jaw repositioned. These devices are often recommended by dental professionals after they determine that your lower jaw is part of your snoring problem. Soreness and discomfort are temporary as you get used to the device.

Tongue Retaining Devices

Tongue retaining devices are another alternative to CPAP machines in the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea. By pulling the tongue forward, the open space in your mouth increases and opens your airway. Your tongue is prevented from hitting the pharyngeal wall (the soft tissue in the back of your throat) that can prevent you from breathing. Because these devices don't fit on your teeth, they don't need thermoplastic material nor do they require custom fitting by dental professionals.

No treatment is without side effects. Tongue retaining devices side effects are minor. You may experience excess salivation during the first week of use, and you may experience difficulty swallowing because your tongue is being stretched. After the excess salivation reduces, your difficulty swallowing will subside.

Risks & Complications of CPAP Machines

etoosaResearch shows that CPAP is an effective treatment of OSA. The benefits of a good night's sleep include lower blood pressure and decreased daytime sleepiness. In a lot of cases, it has shown to lower the risk of heart failure.

CPAP has its fair share of risks, though. Reported issues associated with CPAP machines include excessive dreaming, dry nose, runny nose, sore throat, nasal congestion, sneezing, facial skin irritation, and leaks because of an ill-fitting mask. Nosebleeds are rare, but they have been reported. Most of these symptoms are temporary.

Obviously, you're not used to hooking up to a machine every night to breathe. Facial skin irritation and mild morning discomfort are expected when physical objects are pressed against your skin for prolonged periods of time.

There are ways to reduce part of these side effects. For starters, make sure the mask fits. This can reduce the skin irritation. Take common allergy medicine to relieve a runny or dry nose. Talk to your doctor to see if a different CPAP machine would be more appropriate for you.

Garden Variety CPAP Machines

There are several choices of available CPAP machines. Bi-level Positive Airway Pressure (BiPAP) can detect when you are inhaling and exhaling. These machines will change the air pressure when you breathe. This allows you to exhale against a different air pressure making the machine feel more natural. An Auto-Titrating Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (APAP) will change the air pressure as it's needed. This allows for a more natural sleeping state.

All these machines are considered CPAP machines. As a result, 'CPAP' can be an ambiguous term, enveloping any of these machines.

Do You Need a CPAP Machine?

We asked why a CPAP machine might not be for you. To answer this question, we need to narrow down the group of people who benefit from CPAP machine and see what we can learn. It’s obvious that if you are just an average snorer, CPAP machines are not your only treatment option. They are far from your most expensive choice, but they're not the cheapest, either. There are two people who can decide if a CPAP machine is right for you or not. One of them is your doctor. The other is you.


26 response on “Why A CPAP Machine Is Probably Not For You

    • Certainly, if your doctor says it’s a good idea, no problem. But when it comes to any breathing issue, you definitely want to see your doctor before you buy any crazy medical equipment!

  1. I have been unable to find any info on the incidence of successful treatment for obstructive s.a. using a CPAP device. Do you have any facts and figures please.

  2. My hubby’s used a cpap over 15 yrs. and it’s helped him immensely. However, most nights he still snores the first 2 hrs. which keeps me awake. I’m a light sleeper as it is. I think he should change out mask and hose more often, but he disagrees. He had a sleep study last yr. and we had to purchase a new machine which didn’t solve the problem.

  3. Kimmette Nickens

    I was supposed to have a CPAP machine but I don’t because I can’t find nobody that’s willing to approve me for my machine!

    • Hi Kimmette. Thanks for commenting! One thing I can say is that almost all the snoring mouthpieces on this site do not require any kind of prescription! Plus, most of them feature a free trial.

  4. I am required to use a CPAP machine due to my job’s regulations. Apparently I fall within their guidelines for sleep apnea. I have NEVER had an issue with snoring (I’ve verified this with my husband) or sleep deprivation. As far their questionnaire about how often I fall asleep during my day, I answered, honestly, that I don’t. Ever. Yet, they still claim I am required to use one. I did a sleep study and was found to be “mild”, yet still made to use the CPAP machine. I have used it for the past 6 months and I have not gotten any benefit from it. In fact, since I started using CPAP, I find myself getting drowsy during my day, when before CPAP treatment, I never got drowsy-unless I had less than adequate sleep. I don’t see how this is supposed to be beneficial. I have always slept a minimum of 7 hours per night, more if my body required it, and now I sleep the same amount of hours, yet feel more drowsy during my work day. All the doctor and my job can say is “just keep using it”. Others I work with that are now using CPAP say it’s the best night’s sleep they’ve ever gotten. Not for me. I don’t feel I get a full night’s rest with it on, even though I’m recorded as using it for their required time. I wake up more during the night, feel more groggy in the morning in addition to drowsiness in my day. If I went with a mouthguard, it has to be one fitted by a dentist and have a chip in it so my nightly use can be recorded and sent to my job.

      • Juan Feliciano

        She maybe a tractor trailer driver. Federal regulations require people using CPAP machines to be monitored for use (they have to use their CPAP at least 70% of the time). CDL drivers who use CPAP’s have to take physicals (varies from 3 months to every 2 years) to be sure they are fit to drive tractor trailers and any health related findings have to be reported to the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration).

    • I’m on CPAP and felt the same. Never tired in the day but am now. Also suffer severe bouts of depression and anxiety because big brother is watching (via modem) to ensure compliance!!.

    • Msg to Katie. My heart goes out to you. I have many of the same problems, so I can relate. I have just finished 4 months on CPAP, trying 5 different masks and numerous air pressure from 4-12. Before using CPAP and continuing, I often have problems with insomnia. But once I fall asleep I stay asleep. Of the ten symptoms for sleep apnea listed at the Mayo clinic website, my only symptom was snoring. Yet on the sleep test I got 44 AHI general and 73 suppine, which is definitely severe. They refused to retest me. With CPAP, I became very, very sleepy during the day napping for 50-60 hours a month, as well as sleeping 7-8 hours at night. Sundays, I would usually nap for 4 hours after church. Now that I’m not on CPAP, I’m back to normal and not terribly sleepy, although I sometimes take a nap. Right now I’m not on CPAP while the doctor decides what I should do next. I wear a Lookee device at night monitoring my Oxygen desaturation since I have a hundred O2 drops a night. I have an app to detect snoring – usually I snore all night. Fortunately, I don’t have to wear a CPAP for my job. The sleep clinic advises that I go to the hospital for an overnight test because there’s other sleep disorders besides sleep apnea. All the best to you. Skippy

  5. CPAP is the best thing that ever happened for me, however the mouthpiece will probably be more interesting for me to use when I’m away from home they both can work I don’t think we should try to make one better than the other this strictly depends on the individual I would use my machine at home and use the mouthpiece maybe when I’m camping somewhere or on an air flight

  6. Mary Ann Peddicord

    My husband’s doctor has told him he needs a CPAP machine. He never snores and I lay next to him and read for 3-4 hours after he goes to sleep and I hear him breathing very evenly. I don’t understand why they are requesting that he get a CPAP.

    • You’re not really asking a question. What are you wanting to know? Did you or your husband ask the doctor for clarification? That would be your best source of information.

    • Doctor getting a kickback? Latest medical fad? How can so many people really need a CPAP – seems like the “medicine du jour” to me; everyone I talk to has one or is getting one, and yet studies show that only 2-4% of the population actually need one???

      • Yes Brenda you would be correct. I truly believe this. My husband is a trucker and he was due up for his DOT physical and wouldn’t you know it, the Doctor says you are obese, you need to do the sleep apnea test. My husband is not a loud snoring person – only when he is tired for a reason such as staying up late the night before….i mean really late knowing he has to get up within a few hours. He has never stopped breathing in his sleep. I would know because I suffer from insomnia and I’m right there with him. Been there going on 23 years. Anyways, I think this is a scam and I think that someone is getting a kickback. Even if you don’t have sleep apnea, they say you have it. I call straight BS on this mess.

    • I had a sleep study with only 11 events, but I hardly slept at all. I got the CPAP, but I have claustrophobia and the mask is frightening. I felt that my throat was closing up and I could not swallow. Also, the plastic smells strange, new perhaps, but still don’t like the smell . I have used a night guard for many years. I also take sleep medication, but would like to try to stop using it. That is why I wanted to do the sleep study. I am surprised they advised a CPAP. These CPAP people use scare tactics saying you could stop breathing and die. What do people who are claustrophobic say about these machines and what do they do?

  7. I too think CPAP must be a medical fad. I had one and saw no difference when I stopped using it. I have twice taken an at-home sleep test with a device that didn’t seem to work. Poor design. It gave me a 41 AHI, which is rediculously high for someone with no symptoms. I was told to get a new machine. “Don’t worry insurance pays for it.” It gave me a score of 100 from the very first day. I get emails congratulating me on my progress, although it hasn’t changed from 100.

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