CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure and is the most common therapy for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). While there are other treatment options for OSA, CPAP is the one treatment that can offer instant relief for many people with this sleep disorder.
You may start to see positive results as soon as you start your CPAP treatment. CPAP therapy clears obstacles and causes most snoring to stop. Consequently, you will feel an enhancement in your sleep quality, from less daytime drowsiness to higher alertness during the day.
Over time, CPAP therapy may also lower blood pressure and even prevent or reverse severe health conditions like heart disease. The air that CPAP equipment delivers is generally ‘regular air’ and not concentrated oxygen. As such, CPAP is mostly a safe medical treatment.
How Does CPAP Work?
CPAP therapy functions by pushing air into the back of the throat where throat tissues collapse during sleep. This collapse in the throat is the major cause of sleep apnea and snoring. CPAP treatment works by keeping the airway open, allowing for inhaling and exhaling of air.
You can get CPAP equipment from many Durable Medical Equipment (DME) companies. Many DME providers specialize in sleep-disordered breathing. You can search online for a reputable DME specializing in sleep apnea, although it’s always best to consult with your physician about your sleep apnea and CPAP therapy requirements.
How is CPAP Pressure Titrated?
The pressure of CPAP is measured in centimeters of water pressure. The ideal pressure is commonly determined by a technologist or by a computerized PAP machine. In the sleep center, the pressure is physically increased by a sleep technologist who monitors the patient’s sleep breathing. If there are hypopneas, apneas, or snoring, the pressure is augmented.
There are some auto-titrating CPAP devices (APAP) that use a computerized algorithm and pressure transducer sensors to remove obstructive events while at home.
Is CPAP Treatment Harmful?
Usually, CPAP therapy is very safe. Few therapeutic treatments are safer than room air. However, it is significant to clean your CPAP equipment and parts regularly to avoid any germs buildup. You can easily do this using a CPAP cleaner. Although CPAP treatment is safe, a doctor’s prescription is often necessary to obtain a CPAP device. You may also experience some minor side effects of using your CPAP equipment. If this is the case, consult with your physician to make adjustments to your machine.
What Are the Side Effects of Using CPAP Equipment?
There are very few side impacts of using CPAP equipment. The most common issues with CPAP therapy relate to the contact points where the mask from the CPAP equipment touches the face. Rarely, the skin will become irritated due to the constant contact and pressure of the mask. This can be eliminated by mask adjustment and/or mask replacement. Speak to your physician to find the best sleep apnea mask for you, or to get your current mask adjusted.
Another common side implication and complaint of CPAP treatment is dryness of the mucosal membranes of the nose, mouth, and throat. The regular flow of air can dry out the airway. This problem can often be solved by using a heated humidifier with your CPAP equipment. The humidifier adds moisture to the air, which can relieve any dryness.
Learn more about the side effects of using CPAP devices here.
Getting Started with CPAP Treatment
For those that employ CPAP treatment, the outcome is often dramatic. CPAP therapy usually removes the majority of obstructive breathing events and prevents snoring. For CPAP treatment to work appropriately, you must work with your doctor to find the correct CPAP machine, mask, and parts for you and stay consistent with its use.