Even though a number of sleep therapy machines exist, it has been proven that CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure machine, is the most common and most effective therapy for sleep apnea. This machine sends a constant flow of airway pressure to your throat and ensures that your airway is open during sleep. Hence, it effectively treats the breathing pauses which are usually associated with sleep apnea. Using CPAP as a sleep apnea treatment means that your life will change in a positive direction and you will be happier, more alert and energetic.
Continuous positive airway pressure therapy is the most effective treatment for sleep apnea, especially for the most common type known as obstructive sleep apnea or OSA. Using CPAP will help you sleep better and tighter without waking up from a lack of oxygen. Moreover, your mood will be significantly improved, you’ll feel more alert during the day, and you will have a better memory.
So, here is everything you need to know about continuous positive airway pressure therapy or CPAP as one of the best treatments for sleep apnea.
CPAP: Beginner’s Guide
Continuous positive airway pressure is a machine which helps people who have been diagnosed with sleep apnea to breathe more easily while sleeping. CPAP increases the air pressure in your throat and prevents airway collapse. Moreover, this machine also reduces snoring which improves your partner’s sleeping significantly.
CPAP machine comes with a filter and a small tank of water, which essentially work as a humidifier. Additionally, there is a tube which connects the mask to the unit. The mask should be placed over your face during sleep so that the machine can blow air under pressure. Consequently, you might hear a low noise from the machine, but you will get used to it over time. This machine usually lasts for seven years, it is powered from an ordinary power supply and uses ordinary room air.
The air pressure is usually adjusted in the clinic. In fact, the machine starts at lower pressure but increased over a few minutes. You might experience a difficulty to breathe out, but you will get used to it as soon as you fall a sleep. However, give it some time to get used to the machine.
The mask which comes with CPAP can be in different sizes and shapes. Hence, you can get a mask which covers your nose, a mask which covers your nose and mouth, or a mask that covers your whole face. The clinic will help you find the mask which suits you best.
It’s also crucial to get a good air seal which will also be flexible and rest against your face. By placing it properly, it won’t allow any air leaks and it will be effective. The tubing is yet another thing to consider as it carries air from the machine to your mask. You can place the tubing behind or above your head.
There are a large number of people who find it more comfortable to use CPAP when it has a humidifier. Humidifiers warm and moisten the air from the machine. Even though some clinics issue humidifiers, others issue them only if the air is too dry and cold for you.
The Difference Between CPAP, AutoCPAP and BiLevel
There are three flow generators which are FDA controlled medical devices and require dispensing by prescription. The most basic flow generation and one of the most widely used ones is CPAP. However, there are also two other flow generators which are prescribed if challenges arise and they are known as AutoCPAP or BiLevel.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure is a constant flow of air which the patient inhales and exhales. It might be a bit challenging to get used to the machine as there is a feeling of a continuous flow of air pressure upon exhalation.
Automatic titrating continuous positive airway pressure is a machine which is also known as APAP. This machine is set within a high and low pressure range to meet the varying inhalation needs. This range is determined from the physician and the machine has a sensitive algorithm technology. Hence, it detects the amount of inhalation pressure you need with each breath.
Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure, or BPAP, is quite similar to CPAP. It is set to deliver two distinct pressures, one for inhalation and one for exhalation. This is a more complex and more expensive machine that CPAP, which is usually prescribed to patients with special needs. In fact, it is commonly used for patients who suffer from other health issues, including Parkinson’s, ALS, or other conditions which require assistance with breathing. Moreover, BPAP is often prescribed for patients with central sleep apnea.
So, if you cannot get used to CPAP or you find it overwhelming, there are also two other options, each with a different set of benefits and features. The key to the success of your therapy might be finding the flow generators which best suits you.
Most of the CPAP machines have masks which either cover your nose and mouth or only your nose. The CPAP machine which features a mask which covers your nose only is known as nasal continuous positive airway pressure or NCPAP.
So, as soon as your doctor prescribes CPAP, a home equipment provider will assist you in finding the perfect option which suits your needs. Moreover, you might be also required to undergo an overnight sleep study or a home sleep study. These studies will help your physician determine what exactly you need from the CPAP machine.
Benefits of Using a CPAP Machine
Using a CPAP machine is the most powerful and effective nonsurgical treatment for sleep apnea. It comes with a large number of benefits. So, it will help you lower your blood pressure and daytime sleepiness, it will help you with heart issues, and reverse some serious consequences of obstructive sleep apnea. Additionally, it will reduce the risk of heart disease and protect you from heart problems and reduce your chance of dying from them. CPAP will prevent and provide help with coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, stroke, and irregular heartbeat.
Furthermore, using CPAP won’t only help you treat your sleep apnea, but it will also improve insulin sensitivity. You might not be aware, but not treating your sleep apnea actually increases your risk of getting type 2 diabetes.
As it reduces daytime sleepiness, CPAP also prevents motor vehicle accidents. It is very common for people who have sleep apnea to find it difficult to stay awake and concentrated while driving. Moreover, CPAP will also improve your life, health and well-being. It increases your daytime alertness while reducing fatigue and sleepiness at the same time.
Using CPAP also boosts concentration, reduces mood swings, enhances your mood, eliminates snoring, and reduce your medical expenses. So, using CPAP comes with plenty of benefits which will definitely improve your overall quality of life.
Side Effects of Using CPAP
However, we must also mention that there are some adverse effects which might appear when using CPAP. So, using this machine might trigger a sore throat, dry nose, abdominal bloating, sneezing, nasal congestion, skin irritation, dreaming and nightmares.
Moreover, you might also not feel comfortable wearing the mask while sleeping. However, if you have received a wrong diagnosis and you don’t have sleep apnea, using CPAP can also have severe and even fatal complications, such as stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, and car accidents.
Additionally, many people seem to experience dry mouth and air swallowing when using CPAP. Nevertheless, the side effects are rare, minimal and can be easily overcome. Focus more on the benefits as they are significantly more and more important.
Additional Things to Consider When Using CPAP
There are a number of things you should consider prior to getting a CPAP machine and as soon as you start using it.
Make sure you pick a CPAPmask which fits you properly. You should try a number of different masks and choose the one which fits your face. You can also ask your doctor or CPAP supplier to show you how to adjust your mask to get the best fit.
It might be bothersome to use a CPAP mask at first, but you should first start using it for short time periods while you are awake. Over time, you will get used to it and use it every night while sleeping.
Even though most of the CPAP machines are silent, you might find the noise bothersome. If that’s the case with your CPAP device, you should check whether the device air filter is clean and unblocked. Consult your CPAP supplier on how to properly clean your mask and hose. You should clean your mask, tubing and headgear once a week.
When you are using CPAP, you should also make sure you visit your sleep doctor regularly. Doing so will help you overcome any issues and adjusting the settings properly. Sometimes it takes some time to get used to the mask and find the proper settings.
If you notice that the pressure is too high, you can use the ramp mode on your CPAP unit. This will start your device on a low pressure setting and increase gradually over time.
As soon as you start using CPAP, you will immediately notice a huge lifestyle change. You should use CPAP every night while you are sleeping. Moreover, you should also use the machine when taking a nap. Even one night without using CPAP can mean a negative effect on your overall health, especially your blood pressure. So, the more you use a CPAP machine, the better your life and health will be.