Types of Sleep Apnea Products
Feb 4th, 2021 •
There are so many products that claim to stop snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Treating sleep disorders is a very competitive market, with products ranging from sprays and nasal pillows to mouth guards and CPAP machines. How do you know which products are the best for you?
In this article, we discuss treatment options that have been scientifically and clinically proven to treat snoring and sleep apnea, as well as how to use them, the cost of each product, and a few things to be aware of when using each one.
|Essential Health Helps Stop Snoring||Oral Spray|
|Puranox Anti-Snoring Spray||Oral Spray|
|Mute Snoring by RhinoMed||Nasal Dilator|
|Sleep Right Intra-Nasal Breathe Aid||Nasal Dilator|
|AveoTSD Snoring Mouthpiece||Tongue Stabilizing Device|
|SnoreQuiet Tongue Retaining Anti Snoring Device||Tongue Stabilizing Device|
|NightShift Sleep Positioner||Sleep Positioning Device|
|Zzoma Positional Device||Sleep Positioning Device|
|Theravent Anti-Snore Strip||Expiratory Positive Airway Pressure (EPAP)|
|Provent Sleep Apnea Therapy||
Expiratory Positive Airway Pressure (EPAP)
There are both nasal and oral sprays on the market that claim to eliminate snoring and apneas. But buyer beware: Nasal sprays usually work by clearing your nasal passage, while oral sprays lubricate the soft muscle tissues at the back of your throat to prevent vibrations of soft tissue and reduce snoring.
Nasal sprays are generally not used to treat sleep apnea because they don’t prevent the collapse of soft tissue at the back of the throat. They do, however, help expand and clear your nasal airway, which is effective for people who suffer from hay fever, flu, or allergies. They may also help to silence snorers.
Oral sprays primarily help with snoring, though some may help people with mild cases of sleep apnea.
Below are two oral sprays on the market for people with mild sleep apnea.
Just as the name implies, this throat spray is designed to lubricate the back of your throat and reduce the intensity of your snoring. It also works to gently tone up the soft tissues in the back of the throat to help prevent muscles from over relaxing at night and obstructing the airway. The spray can also be combined with other therapies like a mandibular advancement device, tongue stabilizing device, nasal dilators, or EPAP (expiratory positive airway pressure) therapy.
The Helps Stop Snoring spray is made from essential oils like eucalyptus, lemon, and peppermint. Each night after brushing your teeth, spray it two to three times into the back of your throat and refrain from eating until the morning. A 59-milliliter bottle costs about $12 and should last about 50 nights.
Puranox Anti-Snoring Spray is made with natural plant extracts and is designed to moisturize the back of your throat and prevent snoring. It’s also vegetarian and vegan friendly. This product is best for snorers and those who experience only minor and occasional episodes of sleep apnea. It can also be combined with other sleep therapies.
Apply the Puranox Anti-Snoring Spray just before bedtime. To use, simply place your mouth around the spray applicator and depress the bottle’s lever for 1 second while letting the spray coat the back of your throat. Do not swallow for 10 seconds and do not eat or drink after applying the spray. The medication may cause a tingling sensation in the back of the throat. Puranox Anti-Snoring Spray costs about $12 and comes in a 45-milliliter bottle that should last about 36 nights.
Nasal dilators are small devices that mechanically open your nasal passages to allow more air to flow into the nose and, as a result, decrease snoring. They consist of two small rings, usually made of plastic, that you place into your nostrils. Nasal dilators are simple, surprisingly not uncomfortable, and also noninvasive.
Like nasal sprays, nasal dilators don’t work for everyone. In many cases, snoring is caused by vibrations of the relaxed muscle tissue in your soft palate and throat, and unfortunately, nasal dilators cannot always solve this problem.
Let’s discuss the two most popular nasal dilators on the market designed to tame snoring.
RhinoMed’s Mute Snoring device is a one-piece removable nasal stent made of soft medical-grade plastic that slides into both nostrils and expands to allow more air to flow into your nasal passage. It comes in three sizes — small, medium, and large. Not sure what size nostrils you have? No problem. Mute Snoring offers a trial pack that contains all three sizes so you can test each one and see what fits best.
Mute Snoring is best for people who snore, but those with mild cases of sleep apnea may benefit from it as well. The device can also be used with other therapies like oral sprays, mandibular advancement devices, tongue stabilizing devices, or EPAP therapy. Mute comes in three-packs that cost about $15. Each stent lasts up to 10 nights.
Breathe Aid by Sleep Right’ is a reusable medical-grade plastic nasal dilator designed to reduce nasal congestion by opening your nose by 58%, allowing better airflow and resulting in less snoring. Simply place the device in your nostrils before going to bed. In the morning, remove the dilator, wash it in cold water, and store in the case provided.
Each pack of Intra-Nasal Breathe Aids costs about $15 and comes with three dilators — which translates to a 45-day supply. (Each dilator lasts 15 days.) This product treats snoring in people with deviated septums and those who have blocked sinuses due to hay fever or allergies. It is not intended for people who suffer from sleep apnea. Breathe Aid can also be used with other therapies.
Tongue Stabilizing Device
Tongue stabilizing devices (TSDs) use suction to pull the tongue forward and lift the soft muscles away from your airway. They prevent the tongue from over relaxing and compressing the airways, which causes most episodes of snoring and sleep apnea.
Let’s discuss two of the most popular tongue stabilizing devices currently on the market.
AveoTSD is a tongue stabilizing device made of medical grade silicone that uses gentle suction at the end of your tongue to pull it forward and prevent it from falling back towards the back of your throat. Simply place your tongue into the AveoTSD, and by gently using a pumping action, squeeze the upper and lower ends of the device with your thumb and index finger. The AveoTSD is best for people who snore, as well as those who suffer from mild to low-moderate sleep apnea. It can also be used with other sleep therapies, such as oral sprays, mandibular advancement devices, sleep positioning devices, nasal dilators, or EPAP therapy.
You can reuse the AveoTSD indefinitely, as long as you take good care of it. Wash it in hot water everyday after you wake up, and then store it in the container provided. Refrain from using any chemicals or alcohol on the device as this may break down the silicon. The AveoTSD Snoring Mouthpiece costs about $89, and refunds are available within 60 days of purchase, but you’ll have to pay for shipping to return it to the manufacturer in Dunedin, New Zealand.
The SnoreQuet Tongue Retaining Anti Snoring Device, made with medical grade silicone, holds your tongue when you sleep to prevent it from collapsing into your airway. Simply stick your tongue into it, gently squeeze and push out any air bubbles with your thumb and forefinger. This creates a suction pressure inside, resulting in the device pulling your tongue forward. The SnoreQuet is best for people who snore and for those who suffer from mild to low-moderate sleep apnea. For further effect, you can also use it with other therapies. SnoreQuiet also claims to be the “#1 best rated anti snoring device” for 2017.
The SnoreQuet device should last up to two years provided you clean it daily after use. If the silicon turns yellow, it is time to get it replaced. The device costs about $200, but you can usually take advantage of sales that bring the price down well under $100. If you’re not satisfied with your purchase, you can return it within 30 days for a refund, but you’ll have to foot the bill for shipping and disposal fees.
Sleep Positioning Device
People who suffer from sleep apnea benefit from sleeping either on their left or right side because it alleviates any direct force of relaxed soft muscle tissues on the airway. Most of us do not even realize we are tossing and turning at night, so how do we make sure we are constantly sleeping on our sides at night?
Sleep positioners are designed to help you stay asleep on your side. Let’s discuss two of the most popular products on the market today.
The NightShift Sleep Positioner reminds you to remain on your side by vibrating every time you roll over onto your back. The device is worn around the neck like a dog collar. Just push the button on the device to activate it before bedtime. It starts working 15 minutes later to allow you time to fall asleep.
NightShift also records information each night, like your snoring levels, which can be downloaded onto a computer. This device is best for those who snore or suffer from mild to low-moderate sleep apnea. It can also be used with other therapies such as oral sprays, mandibular advancement device, tongue stabilizing device, nasal dilators, or EPAP therapy.
The NightShift will indicate when its batteries need recharging, which is usually about every three days. The product requires a prescription, and costs about $350, but it should last a few years. However, the neck strap will need replacing every six months at a cost of about $30. It also comes with a 1-year warranty and refunds are available within 30 days. People with heart conditions and/or pacemakers should not use the NightShift Sleep Positioner as it may interfere with other medical devices.
The Zzoma is a prescription-only positional device that fits around your waist with a bulged-out structure that rests on your back to prevent you from rolling from your side onto your back. Velcro straps at the chest also help hold the positioner into place.
Zzoma is made mainly of nylon-covered foam. The straps that touch the body have PVC dots (similar to bathtub floor tacks) that create friction on your body to prevent the straps from slipping while you sleep. It is best for patients who snore and for those who suffer from sleep apnea but are not compliant with CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy.
Zzoma is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) based on positive results of a sleep study. It costs about $190, and comes with a 1-year warranty and 30-day money back guarantee. It can also be used with other sleep therapies.
Expiratory Positive Airway Pressure (EPAP)
EPAP, short for expiratory positive airway pressure, is a type of therapy that draws more air into the nostrils, but prevents some of it from being exhaled. This creates a positive air pressure in your airways, and also prevents your airways from collapsing. One downfall is that you may feel it is hard to exhale while on this therapy.
Unlike a bulky CPAP machine, which pushes air into the airway, an EPAP uses natural pressure when you exhale to help keep your airway open while you breathe.
Let’s discuss the two of the most popular EPAP products currently on the market.
The Theravent Anti-Snore Strip is a type of EPAP that is small, lightweight, and easily portable, making it a popular choice for travelers. It uses a one-way microvalve along with the power of your breathing to prevent your airways open and your soft tissues from vibrating.
To use, be sure the skin around your nostrils is clean and dry. Remove the paper backing from a single strip to expose the adhesive and place the strip directly over the nostrils, ensuring the microvalves are covering each nostril with no gaps between the adhesive and your skin. If the strip is placed properly, you will be able to easily inhale through the strip, but not fully exhale. It generally takes about a week to get used to wearing the Theravent anti-snore strip.
Each strip should be thrown away after each night’s use. The Theravent comes in three different resistance levels — starter, regular, and max. Each variety costs about $24 for a box of 20 vented snore strips, which last 20 nights. There is also a 6-night trial pack with six strips — two of each strength — available for about $10.
The Theravent Anti-Snore Strip is FDA approved based on clinical trials which showed it was an effective treatment for snorers, reducing snoring in more than three-quarters of patients who used the device. It is not approved to treat sleep apnea, but people who suffer from the disorder may still benefit from it. The snore strips can also be used with oral sprays, mandibular advancement devices, or tongue stabilizing devices.
Provent Sleep Apnea Therapy is a prescription EPAP therapy clinically proven to treat obstructive sleep apnea. These discrete, light weight, and extremely portable devices use the power of your breathing to hold your airways open and enable natural airflow.
Provent uses a one-way microvalve that closes when air is passed through in a particular direction, creating a slight pressure in your airways and reducing apnea events by opening up your airways. It differs from Theravent in that it uses one individual piece for each nostril instead of one big piece covering both of your nostrils.
Each oblong Provent strip is applied along the axis of your nostril with each valve at the center. The device should make a tight seal around each nostril. If applied correctly, you should be able to breathe in through your nose normally, but exhaling may take some effort. Discard the strip after a night’s use.
A 30-day supply of Provent costs about $65-70, and comes in three resistance levels — low, medium and standard. There is also a starter kit that contains all three versions of the strips. This product can be used with other treatments like oral sprays, tongue stabilizing devices, sleep positioning devices, and/or mandibular advancement splints.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that occurs when breathing is briefly and repeatedly interrupted during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat close. It’s similar to what happens when you snore, but with episodes of obstructive sleep apnea, you stop breathing because your airway has collapsed. This causes you to choke, cough, or gasp, and often jolts you awake, preventing you from getting a restful sleep.
OSA can cause low blood oxygen, which can be life threatening. This dangerous combination of fragmented sleep and oxygen starvation can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, and memory problems, as well as increase the risk of recurrent heart attacks and sudden cardiac death.
Types of Sleep Apnea Treatments
- Oral sprays — Oral sprays are designed to lubricate the soft muscle tissues in the back of the throat to prevent vibrations. They are more often used to reduce snoring but are sometimes used to treat very mild cases of sleep apnea.
- Nasal Dilators — These devices consist of two small rings that are placed inside the nostrils and open your nasal passages. They can reduce snoring and improve sleep, but don’t effectively treat sleep apnea.
- Tongue stabilizing device (TSD) — These devices sit at the lips and use suction to pull the tongue forward and lift the soft tissues away from the back of your throat, which can reduce sleep apnea symptoms.
- Mandibular advancement device (MAD) — Mandibular advancement devices are the most widely used mouthpiece used to treat sleep apnea. MAD devices are like mouth guards with metal hinges that allow the lower jaw to gently slide forward, opening the airway.
- Sleep positioning device — Episodes of sleep apnea are reduced when you sleep on your side as opposed to your back. Sleep positioners prevent you from rolling from your side onto your back while you sleep.
- Positive airway pressure (PAP) — Positive airway pressure, or PAP, is the most effective and widely used method for treating obstructive sleep apnea. It uses a small device or machine with a face mask to introduce pressurized air into the throat in order to prevent the soft tissues from collapsing. There are several different PAP devices or sleep apnea machines available to treat moderate to severe cases of sleep apnea.
Oral sprays lubricate the soft muscle tissues in the back of the throat in order to prevent the tissues from vibrating. Some work to tone up the tissues at the back of the throat to prevent it from obstructing the airway. Oral sprays are more effective at reducing snoring rather than treating sleep apnea.
- Less expensive
- No prescription needed
- Non invasive
- Not considered an effective treatment for sleep apnea
- Side effects include tingling in the throat
Nasal Dilators are made up of two small rings that fit into the nostrils and open the nasal cavity. While they are great for increasing airflow, reducing snoring, and improving sleep quality, they aren’t an effective sleep apnea treatment.
- Can reduce snoring
- Can improve sleep quality
- Not considered an effective treatment for sleep apnea
- Can be painful to remove
Oral appliances are often used to treat snoring and mild to moderate sleep apnea. They are usually more easily tolerated than bulky sleep machines like CPAPs.
Tongue stabilizing device (TSD)
Tongue stabilizing devices sit at the lips and look somewhat like a pacifier. They use suction to pull the tongue forward and lift the soft tissues away from the back of your throat.
- Less expensive than CPAP
- Smaller and easier to travel with
- Not as effective as positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy
- Can cause excess saliva
Mandibular advancement device (MAD)
Mandibular advancement devices are similar to mouth guards that fit inside the mouth, but have metal hinges that allow the lower jaw to gently slide forward.
- Less expensive than CPAP
- Smaller and portable
- Not as effective as positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy
- Can be uncomfortable
Sleep Positioning Devices
Episodes of sleep apnea are less frequent while sleeping on your side as opposed to your back. Sleep positioners are therapy devices that prevent you from rolling from your side onto your back.
Some consist of collars that fit around the neck and vibrate when they sense you rolling over in order to force you back on your side. Others fit around the torso and have protrusions on the back that stop you when you try to roll over.
- Can hold you in side-sleeping position and reduce sleep apnea episodes
- Can reduce snoring as well
- These devices can be uncomfortable
- May wake you when you attempt to roll over and interfere with a good night’s sleep
Positive Airway Pressure Devices
EPAP (Expiratory Positive Airway Pressure)
EPAP is a device that enables you to draw in more air and exhale less air through the nostrils. This creates positive air pressure that prevents the airways from collapsing. EPAPs are usually made of adhesive strips that stick to the nose that allow you to inhale normally through your nostrils, but exhaling is more difficult.
- EPAPs are not machine-assisted
- More portable than other PAP devices
- It may feel odd not to fully exhale through your nose,
- It can take a week or longer to get used to the therapy.
CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure)
CPAP therapy is a common treatment for sleep apnea. CPAP devices consist of a face mask that’s hooked up to a machine by a long hose. The machine provides a continuous flow of air into the airway.
- Provides continuous positive airway pressure for effective sleep apnea treatment
- Newer models are quieter, have lighter weight face or nasal masks, and add-ons like heated humidifiers
- Some find the face masks and continuous positive airway pressure claustrophobic
- Wearing a CPAP mask throughout the night can cause dry mouth, dry nose, and congestion
BiPAP (Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure)
Unlike CPAP machines which deliver a single level of pressure, BiPAP machines deliver one pressure for inhaling and another pressure for exhaling.
- Can be a more comfortable option for people who cannot tolerate CPAP’s single continuous pressure
- BiPAPs make it easier to exhale, and reduce the risk of side effects caused by too much CO2 buildup
- In most cases, BiPAP is not recommended until CPAP therapy has failed
- Wearing a BiPAP mask overnight can cause dry mouth, dry nose, and congestion
APAP (Automatic Positive Airway Pressure)
APAP therapy has two separate settings — high and low — which allow the machine to automatically adjust to varying pressure needs as you sleep and change positions during the night.
- APAP’s automatic adjustable setting is generally more tolerable than CPAP’s constant pressure
- A good option for combination sleepers or people who toss and turn a lot at night
- In most cases, APAP is not recommended until CPAP therapy has failed
- Not recommended for patients with chronic heart failure or obesity hypoventilation syndrome
Surgeries and Procedures
People with obstructive sleep apnea who cannot tolerate CPAP or similar positive airway pressure therapy may be candidates for medical procedures or surgeries.
Nasal surgery — Nasal obstructions and nighttime nasal congestion can contribute to sleep apnea. Nasal surgery for these issues usually involves straightening the septum (the cartilage in the nose that separates the nostrils) which creates room for air to pass smoothly. In some cases, cartilage removed from the septum can be used to strengthen the nostril valve and prevent collapse. These procedures are usually performed in hospitals as out-patient surgeries.
Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) — UPPP is the most performed sleep apnea surgery. It involves removing excess tissue from the soft palate and pharynx and, in some cases, the tonsils. This surgery usually requires an overnight stay in the hospital, and pain can persist for up to a week after the surgery has been performed.
Soft palate implants — Also called the Pillar Procedure, this involves the placement of polyester rods into the soft palate, which creates an inflammatory response that stiffens the tissues. This procedure can be done during a medical clinic visit with the patient awake under local anesthesia.
Mandibular maxillomandibular advancement surgery — This is a type of facial skeletal surgery that repositions the jaws to move them forward in order to expand the airway. Incisions are usually performed inside the mouth. It generally requires a one- to two-day hospital stay.
Upper airway stimulation (UAS) — This sleep apnea treatment involves surgically implanting a system that monitors breathing patterns and provides a small amount of stimulation to contract the throat muscles to keep the airway open.
Hyoid advancement — The hyoid is a U-shaped bone at the base of the neck that supports the tongue. People with sleep apnea often have a large tongue base that is more prone to obstructing the airway during sleep. Hyoid advancement surgery repositions the bone to expand the airway and prevent collapse. It is usually performed in the hospital as an outpatient surgery.
Tongue base reduction — This procedure involves using radiofrequency waves to shrink the tissues at the base of the tongue to help open air passages and prevent obstruction. This surgery requires a one-night stay in the hospital.
Tongue base advancement — This surgery moves forward one of the muscles of the tongue to limit the tongue’s backward fall during sleep. This procedure usually requires an overnight stay in the hospital.
Tracheostomy — A tracheostomy is a temporary or permanent procedure in which a hole is made in the trachea in the neck where a tube is inserted that delivers air to the lungs, bypassing any obstructions in the mouth or throat. It is an option for people who are morbidly obese with a condition known as obesity hypoventilation syndrome, or people with significant craniofacial anomalies.
Somnoplasty — Somnoplasty is a procedure used to treat snoring and is not recommended for sleep apnea. It uses heat to modify the tissues of the uvula and the soft palate. Somnoplasty is generally performed in a doctor’s office with the patient awake, under local anesthesia.
Sometimes making a small adjustment to your lifestyle can greatly reduce episodes of sleep apnea. Here are some suggestions:
- Avoid alcohol. Alcohol can relax the muscles in your throat and cause them to fall into your airway.
- Avoid sleeping pills. Just like alcohol, sleep medicine can relax the muscles in your throat and cause an airway obstruction.
- Lose weight. Studies show that you can reduce episodes of sleep apnea by 50% by losing just 10-15% of your body weight. Some people saw a complete reduction of sleep apnea with more substantial weight loss.
- Change sleep positions. Back sleepers are more prone to snoring and sleep apnea because gravity is working against them, causing the soft tissues in the mouth to fall into the airway. Reduce your risk by rolling over onto your side.
- Get an adjustable bed. It might be worth investing in a new mattress that works with an adjustable bed frame. Sleep apnea symptoms can often be alleviated by adjusting the head of the bed up.
- Quit smoking. Smoking cigarettes can increase inflammation and fluid retention in the upper airway, leading to sleep apnea.
How to Choose the Best Sleep Apnea Products
If you think you suffer from sleep apnea and would benefit from treatment, you should first talk with your doctor or, if your insurance provides coverage without a referral, go directly to a sleep specialist. Sleep specialists come from different medical backgrounds such as pulmonology, otolaryngology, neurology, and psychiatry, and use their expertise to help diagnose you with a particular sleep disorder, like obstructive sleep apnea, and the best treatment options.
To diagnose you with sleep apnea, your doctor may ask you to take a sleep apnea test called a polysomnogram. This is usually performed at a sleep disorder clinic. The test records your brain activity while you sleep using electrodes placed on your face and scalp, your breathing with belts around your chest and abdomen, and the oxygen levels in your blood with an oximeter probe on your finger.
Once a diagnosis is made, you will work closely with your sleep specialist to determine which treatment options are best for you.
Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that can disrupt your sleep, leading to excessive daytime sleepiness. But it can also lead to chronic diseases like heart disease and high blood pressure. In severe cases, it can be life threatening.
If you think you have sleep apnea, consider lifestyle changes; try oral sprays, nose dilators, sleep positioners, or other readily available remedies; and talk with your doctor about getting tested. You may need medical treatment or even surgery to overcome your sleep apnea in order to get a good night’s sleep.
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