CPAP is most widely known for being used for sleep apnea. A fairly simple machine, it can increase rest for the individual as well as his sleep partner and preclude the need for more advanced treatments. A simple nighttime study is usually all that is needed to fit a person for this machine. Understanding more about this treatment can decrease any fears that an individual may have about its use.
What Is the Machine?
CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. It is a small machine with a mask; it may also include a humidifier. The mask fits over a person’s nose and mouth or, more commonly, over the nose only. Some machines have nasal prongs rather than a mask.
Why Is It Used?
Continuous positive airway pressure is most often used in two situations. The first is for preterm infants whose lungs are not yet fully developed and who struggle to breathe. This is used in the hospital to increase chances of survival among these babies.
However, the most common use for the machine is on adults within their own homes. It has proven quite effective for sleep apnea. Those who use the machine tend to find that they can sleep through the night, wake up feeling well rested, are not as fatigued through the day and do not wake their partners up with snoring during the night.
How Does the Machine Work?
People who have sleep apnea struggle to keep their airways open while sleeping. Oftentimes, the throat will close, causing the individual to stop breathing for a time. Continuous positive airway pressure can minimize or stop this problem altogether. As the name implies, the machine delivers a constant supply of air through the mask or nasal prongs. This constant air pressure helps to hold the individual’s airways open, thereby maintaining steadier supplies of oxygen to the lungs and decreasing snoring.
Are There Any Potential Problems?
Problems from a continuous positive airway pressure machine are usually remedied easily. The discomfort of wearing the mask typically only lasts for a few days; if the discomfort is prolonged or if the mask leaks air, the doctor can adjust the mask or try a new mask. Some people complain that their noses and mouths feel dried out in the morning; this problem can be solved by using a humidifier.
What Is the Newest Technology in the Field?
An auto-adjusting CPAP, or APAP, device comes with an automatic mode that can regulate the air pressure exerted based on each breath. This is ideal for people who experience variable breathing patterns such as from using different sleep positions or being more tired on some nights than on others. These machines have both continuous and automatic modes.
Continuous positive airway pressure machines can spell dramatic relief for many people suffering from sleep apnea. In fact, many who begin using this therapy will be surprised to find how much more rested they feel. The treatment is simple and has very few side effects.