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An oral mask is helping individuals with obstructive sleep apnea, reported a study published in Chest (December 2003). Usually patients with sleep apnea are given continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. CPAP works by blowing air into the patient?s throat, which helps prevent the airway blockage that happens with the disease. CPAP is typically delivered with a mask that introduces air through the patient?s nose.
Developed by US-based Fisher & Paykel Healthcare under the name Oracle, the oral mask could give a viable alternative to patients who incur problems with nasal masks. The researchers based their findings on a study of patients referred for CPAP therapy. The participants were asked to select a mask from several different types, including the nasal, mouth?nose combination (oronasal), and Oracle. Among the 98 participants, 66% chose the nasal mask, 27% picked the Oracle mask, and 7% selected an oronasal mask.
When asked about their experiences with the masks, no significant differences were seen between the groups. The Oracle mask, however, was associated with more airway dryness, compared with the other 2 types. Additional technical modifications could improve the problems of airway dryness, the researchers reported.