What is a CPAP Machine?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea or OSA is a serious sleep disorder that results when the throat completely or partially closes which causes disordered breathing. You then snore or choke to intake air, which interrupts your sleep. While there are several treatment paths recommended for those who suffer from OSA, the most common approach is to use a CPAP machine which provides continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP).

The purpose of a CPAP machine is to keep your airway open. The machine filters air through a mask that funnels a constant stream of air into your airway. This constant stream of air creates enough pressure to maintain open airway and maintain proper oxygen levels. You can then sleep without waking up, choking or snoring.

Why You May Need CPAP Therapy

Proper breathing during the night is a powerful incentive for pursuing sleep apnea treatment, but there are many other reasons to treat this condition. Untreated sleep apnea is closely related to:

  • Heart disease, including congestive heart failure, irregular heartbeat, and coronary artery disease, as sleep apnea reduces blood oxygen levels.
  • Stroke, which causes a sudden loss in brain function due to ruptures or blockages in your blood vessels.
  • High blood pressure, which is the increased force of blood pushing on the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps blood. It is a precursor for both a stroke and heart attack.
  • Diabetes, which is an inability to produce or use insulin in the body, is linked to sleep apnea, glucose intolerance, and insulin resistance.

Many people with serious sleep apnea develop these conditions or these conditions recur if they stop using the mask for a time. Consistent use of the machine can prevent medical emergencies and decrease medical expenses.

Treating sleep apnea also helps keep you more alert and more able to concentrate, which reduces motor vehicle accidents and keeps you more productive on the job. Most users find themselves less apt to get depressed and have a better quality of life as a result. You will also snore less or more quietly, which will keep you from disturbing your household members.

PAP therapy can help you attain a better quality of life as you feel better rested.

How a CPAP Machine Works

There are many CPAP machine models that help you breathe. All consist of an air pump unit, a mask, and flexible tubing that connects the two and delivers pressurized air to the lungs. The tubing is long enough so that you can comfortably move around in bed, and the unit is quiet enough that it will not disturb you or a partner.

There are several types of PAP therapy machines that deliver air in a different manner.

  • APAP or auto-titrating positive airway pressure therapy. This machine raises or lowers your air pressure automatically during the night as needed.
  • BiPAP or bilevel positive airway pressure. This machine alternates pressure as you breathe in and out.
  • CPAP or continuous positive airway pressure. This machine keeps constant airway pressure.

PAP therapy masks vary; so choose the mask that is most comfortable for you. Here are some examples:

  • A nasal mask, the most common type of CPAP mask, covers only the nose.
  • A full-face mask covers both the mouth and nose. This mask works well if you breathe through your mouth when you sleep.
  • Nasal pillows are soft silicone and pillow-like inserts that slip gently into your nostrils to deliver the air along with a full-face mask. They can eliminate further air leaks.

The type of mask you use depends on your preference and your condition. Your DME company will work with you to help you determine the best mask for you, as well as the right amount of air pressure you need.

Alternatives to CPAP Therapy

While positive airway pressure is the treatment of choice for most people who suffer from sleep apnea there are both surgical alternatives and oral appliances available.

Potential Side Effects To Using a CPAP

Over time, using a CPAP machine can have minor side effects such as:

  • Dry nose and sore throat, which can be alleviated by using a humidifier that is attached to the machinery.
  • Nasal congestion, sneezing, and runny nose, which can be remedied with a prescription strained saline nasal spray, or over-the-counter nasal saline spray.
  • Skin irritation or strap marks from the headgear or nasal mask, which can be eliminated by choosing equipment that is comfortable for you and that features soft strap covers to reduce rubbing against your skin.

Improve Your Life With CPAP Therapy

Using a CPAP machine to combat sleep apnea is a lifestyle change that can improve your life for the better. If you have sleep apnea and want to consider CPAP treatment, contact us online or call us at 708-364-0261 to set up an appointment with one of our board certified sleep specialists.

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