Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is the most effective treatment for sleep disorders; however, patient compliance rates are surprisingly low. From patients not wearing their mask every night to not following the CPAP cleaning protocols, CPAP therapy is not being used as it should.
How Does CPAP Therapy Work?
Continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP is the treatment of choice for sleep-disordered breathing. It works by continuously blowing oxygen into your airway to prevent it from collapsing. Collapsing of the airway is what causes many sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.
There is an entire spectrum of disorders that fall under the sleep disordered breathing category, everything from mild snoring to obesity hypo-ventilation syndrome. The diseases gradually increase in severity resulting in increased mortality and morbidity. CPAP therapy is used to treat all of them successfully.
The sleep disorder you have probably heard the most about is obstructive sleep apnea, this is the most common type of sleep disorder after insomnia and affects approximately 2% of women and 4% of men. It is believed, however, that only an estimated 10% of people with obstructive sleep apnea seek treatment. The conse-quences of leaving obstructive sleep apnea untreated are high, not only does it lead to chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and heart disease, but it decreases your quality of life.
CPAP therapy essentially cures obstructive sleep apnea along with other sleep disorders. So you most likely wonder why the compliance rates are so low. The answer is mostly due to comfort. It can take some time getting used to wearing the CPAP mask to sleep, and if it doesn’t fit right many patients discontinue use. Also, many patients complain of airway discomforts such as dryness and burning.\
How CPAP Companies Are Trying To Improve CPAP Compliance
- Humidification- Irritated airways, such as dryness, congestion, and burning are a common reason patients discontinue their CPAP use. This occurs because when the air is blown into the airway the bodies natural mucosa becomes unable to maintain a comfortable humidity in the air. Heated humidifier tanks warm and moisten the air that is being pushed into your airway eliminating this problem.
- Mask interfaces– There used to be only one types of CPAP mask, and it was bulky and hard to sleep with. Naturally, if patients can’t relax enough to fall asleep with their CPAP mask on, they most likely are not going to continue using it. Now there are many different types of CPAP masks including:
- Nasal mask- Covers only your nose from the bridge to your upper lip.
- Nasal pillows- Airflow is directed into the nostrils through a nasal cannula.
- Full face mask- Covers your mouth and nose. This type of mask is most suited for those who require a high air pressure, and those who breathe through their mouth.
- Making CPAP cleaning easier- It is recommended to clean your CPAP equipment daily with soap and water. This is a time-consuming task, especially for most people who are in a rush to get out the door in the morning. New CPAP cleaning devices such as VirtuCLEAN offer a much simpler solution. With VirtuCLEAN you merely plug your CPAP device into the CPAP cleaner and turn the cleaner on. It uses ozone to thoroughly clean and sanitizes your equipment. It also leaves it completely dry, so you don’t have to worry about it drying in time for your next use.
Talk To Your Doctor About Your Concerns
If you have been prescribed CPAP therapy for your sleep disorder, take the treatment seriously. It may take some time getting used to your sleep apnea machine, but keep your focus on the importance of it and talk to your doctor about any problems or concerns that you have.
If you are having trouble getting comfortable with your mask, don’t think twice about asking your doctor for a different one. You may have to try a few different masks before you find one that you are comfortable with, but there are so many options that you will find one that is suitable for your face.
When it comes to CPAP cleaning, consider getting a CPAP cleaner such as VirtuCLEAN to keep your machine as clean as possible, while making your life easier.