Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) affects an estimated 936 million adults between the ages of 30 - 69 worldwide. In the U.S., conservative estimates indicate that 6% of women and 13% of men have significant OSA. Unfortunately, the standard and best therapy, namely CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure), is not always well-received by the patient, despite symptoms. This has led to a flood of alternative therapies, most of which are unproven. Many patients will spend a great deal of money on an alternative to CPAP without real benefit. Untreated OSA is associated with many down-stream problems and should not be ignored or go untreated.

I wanted to make you aware of some of the unproven, but well-marketed treatments and products to help you save time, money, and your health. The following treatments have not been proven to be of any benefit in OSA, despite the claims.

Positional therapy, these are pillows that move when snoring is detected. Nasal valve dilators, which supposedly open the nasal cavity, have no real proven studies. Surgeries such as frenuloplasty and maxillary facial expanders, along with devices used on preteenagers to develop better oral and facial anatomy, carry risks but no proven benefit. There are many other treatments and appliances with very limited data on their benefit, including oral chin straps, oral pressure therapy, daytime electrical stimulation of the tongue, oral expiratory positive pressure, and many others.

Talk to your sleep specialist and try to work out your issues with the use of your CPAP.