Continuous Positive Airway Pressure therapy, or CPAP as it is often called is the best way to treat Sleep Apnea and in most cases it also prevents snoring.
As you likely already know, an apnea is when your tongue, neck tissue or something else blocks your airway while you are asleep, and as a result, your body stops breathing for a brief moment until you clear the blockage – usually done by snorting or coughing.
In order to prevent this from happening, CPAP therapy lightly pushes warm, humidified air through a hose, into a mask and down your airway to prevent blockages from occurring. Think of it like a steady flow of water going through a hose so that the hose doesn’t collapse on its self.
While the air pressure varies depending on the person, you can be assured that it will not impact how you exhale and you won’t experience any serious side effects to CPAP therapy as long as you are using it correctly.
By having air constantly flowing through a person’s airway, their airway remains open and allows the person to breath the entire time they are sleeping. Being able to breath continuously allows for the person to get a much better quality of sleep, which generally leads to the person waking up with more energy, focus and a smile on their face.
Types of CPAP Machines
There are two types of CPAP machines on the market – automatic and standard.
Automatic CPAP machines vary the air pressure according to what the person needs to keep their airway open. They do by sensing the airflow through a person’s airway and providing pressure to open the airway when the airflow slows down and indicates that there is an obstruction.
If airflow decreases due to a partial or complete obstruction, an automatic CPAP machine will increase the pressure to keep the airway open. The pressure will decrease again when the airway reopens.
Standard CPAP machines work off an airflow which is programmed into the machine. This means that every person’s standard machine will be a little bit different based on the person’s needs. Needs can change throughout the night or even in some cases, from night to night.
There are two ways to find out what your ideal settings are with a standard CPAP machine. One, take a sleep test in a lab where a sleep expert can adjust the air pressure as you sleep to determine what levels are ideal for you. Or two, do a trial with an automatic CPAP machine to give you a pressure trend reading, so that you have an idea what the settings should be.
The three most popular brands of CPAP machines are ResMed, Fisher & Paykel and Philips Respironics. All three brands have received good reviews from our patients. Prices for the auto CPAP machine, mask and hose start at around $650 dollars.
When to Use CPAP Therapy
In order to receive the full benefits of CPAP therapy you must use your machine whenever you sleep. This includes all daytime naps and the main overnight sleep. If you wake up and the mask has fallen off, calmly put it back on and try to go back to sleep. CPAP therapy will not work without the mask snuggly secured to your face.
Do people Really Sleep With the Mask on?
It’s not uncommon for people to think, “There is no way I can get used to sleeping with that mask and machine”.
Don’t let that feeling alarm you, as it is common for people to feel that way. But rest assured, 75% of people that don’t think they can do it, usually get used to sleeping with the mask within a week.