Methods for Reducing Aerophagia
There are many potential methods for reducing the amount of air you swallow. You can potentially reduce aerophagia by:
- Improving mask fit
- Trying a different mask style
- Getting treatment for GERD
- Change your sleeping position
- Upgraded to BiPAP
If these fail, you should consider switching to oral appliance therapy by talking to Denver sleep dentist Dr. Berry.
Get Your Mask Refitted
Mask fit is one of the most common barriers to getting effective, comfortable treatment with CPAP. If your mask doesn’t fit properly, you might try turning up the air pressure to see if it helps you sleep better. The higher pressure, though, could lead to more air swallowing. Getting a good mask fit can help you get better results with lower air pressure, and that leads to less air swallowing.
Try a Different Mask Style
CPAP masks come in many varieties, and if you choose the wrong one, it can make it hard to get good results. For some people, the problem with CPAP is that air pressure forces air into the stomach. Other people, though, gulp outside air when using CPAP. If you currently have a nose-only mask, try one that covers the mouth, and if you have a mask that covers the mouth, consider switching to a nose-only mask.
Treat GERD (If you Have It)
Several studies indicate that there might be a link between GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and aerophagia. People with GERD are more likely to experience aerophagia. Some researchers speculate that the link is a weak esophageal sphincter (valve). The esophageal sphincter is supposed to keep acid in the stomach and air out. GERD occurs when your valve is letting acid out at night, so it makes sense that it might also be letting air in.
Some people report that getting treatment for GERD helps reduce aerophagia, but many people taking GERD medications still have aerophagia.
Sleep in a Different Position
As with snoring, aerophagia is worse when you sleep on your back. Try sleeping on your side. This might have the additional benefit of reducing your sleep apnea. If side sleeping doesn’t work, try sleeping propped up. This can narrow your esophagus, making it harder for air to push in.
Try Advanced CPAP Like BiPAP
Normal CPAP uses a continuous stream of pressurized air–it’s right there in the name! This can lead to some problems since when you exhale, you have to fight against the air pressure forcing its way in. This increases the pressure in your airway, possibly enough to push air past your esophageal sphincter.
BiPAP stands for Bi-level positive airway pressure, though it also goes by other names coined by equipment manufacturers. The principle is that it uses two levels of pressure, a higher one for when you are inhaling, and a lower pressure when you exhale. This could make it easier and more comfortable to use–and it might reduce aerophagia.