Sleep Apnea: What Are CPAP Machines Used For?

The Uses of CPAP Machines

CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) therapy is an effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. This involves using a machine that provides steady airway pressure to the mouth and the nose, preventing the airway from collapsing, obstructing the normal breathing process.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea. Image Courtesy of Drcamachoent

Using a CPAP machine helps those with obstructive sleep apnea or similar disorders, allowing them and their partner to sleep better without any disturbances.

How does the CPAP machine work?

A CPAP machine is composed of a compressor or a motor, an air filter, a breathing apparatus, and a flexible tube to connect them all together.

The compressor generates the pressurized air stream that the patient breathes in. This airstream passes through an air filter before passing through the flexible tube that connects the air filter with the breathing apparatus.

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The breathing apparatus is basically a mask that allows the user to breathe in the pressurized air stream.

Three different types of masks are available for users to choose from, each of which has its own sets of pros and cons:

    1. CPAP Nasal Masks

The Nasal masks just cover the nose and deliver high-pressure air directly into the nasal cavity. This mask is especially recommended for side sleepers and those who move a lot during their sleep.

These masks are the perfect choice for users who require a higher pressure setting to properly benefit from the CPAP machine. Moreover, it is easier to find a nasal mask that is perfectly sealed around the nose than the other types.

However, the nasal masks may put extra pressure on the nasal bridge, which may be annoying to the users. It may even disturb them during their sleep, hence defeating the purpose of a CPAP.

Furthermore, CPAP nasal masks may require a chin strap if the person using it is a mouth breather. Without a chin strap, the nasal masks may be redundant and a bad choice overall.

    1. CPAP Full-Face Masks

As the name aptly describes, these masks cover the full face. They fit snugly over the mouth and the nose of the user, providing a strong air stream to both airways. These masks are better suited for those who are mouth breathers than any other type of mask.

CPAP Full-Face masks are a bit bulkier than their counterparts and can prevent the user from sleeping on their side or stomach.

Most people who use a full-face mask complain of constant dry eyes as there is a higher chance of air leakage through these masks, which can result in the air stream drying out the eyes.

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    1. CPAP Nasal Pillow Mask (Prongs)

This type of mask is the opposite of the other two types and is extremely lightweight. Instead of having a bulky body, it just has prongs that open into the nostrils and do not come in contact with the face at all.

Since the prongs are placed directly into the nostrils, this type of mask cannot be used to deliver a higher-pressure air stream. Those using their CPAP machines to provide a Low to moderate pressure air stream can comfortably use the nasal pillow mask.

These masks are pretty airy and perfect for claustrophobic users or those who like to read or watch tv before sleeping but cannot do so because of the bulkier masks. Nasal Pillow masks also prevent air leakage since the prongs are inside the nostrils and the air doesn’t have much room to escape.

Other types of breathing machines

  1. BiPAP

Unlike CPAP, Bi-level Positive Airway Pressure Machine is a breathing aid that has two pressure settings. If a patient cannot tolerate the CPAP machine or has a higher carbon dioxide content in their bloodstream, then the doctor may recommend a BiPAP machine to help prevent airway obstruction and ensure proper breathing.

The two pressure settings on this machine are for inhaling and exhaling, with more pressure provided for inhaling than exhaling.

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  1. APAP

Automatic Positive Airway Pressure Machines helps improve the user’s breathing and snoring by continuously monitoring the airway pressure throughout the night and fixing it to compensate for different sleep positions or other factors impairing the breathing cycle.

Why use a CPAP machine?

A CPAP machine is commonly used as the modality of choice to treat obstructive sleep apnea and snoring. However, there are several other benefits of using CPAP machines, such as:

  • Using the CPAP machine is often associated with improving blood pressure and treating hypertension.
  • CPAP machine use is linked with a decreased risk of cardiovascular diseases and heart attacks.
  • CPAP users were found to be more alert and less depressed during the day.
  • Use of CPAP machine treats Obstructive sleep apnea, which is strongly associated with strokes. Hence, CPAP can reduce the risk of stroke significantly.

Read Also: Restful Sleep Has Rejuvenating Effects on the Body

What are the advantages of a CPAP Machine?

The CPAP machine improves the breathing and the sleeping patterns of the users by providing a continuous, constant pressure stream of air to prevent the collapse of airways, which may disturb the sleep cycle.

The improved sleep cycle of the users helps them be more active during the day and be less affected by daytime drowsiness and sleepiness.

Long term CPAP use was found to be associated with decreased glucose and cholesterol levels.

Therefore, CPAP machines have several other uses apart from treating obstructive sleep apnea.

What are the disadvantages of CPAP Machines?

CPAP machines, like everything else in the world, also have some disadvantages that need to be considered before recommending their use to patients.

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Users often complain of discomfort and irritability in the earlier stages of using CPAP. In fact, some users even find it difficult to initiate sleep during this period. Moreover, some patients may suffer from claustrophobia due to the fit and the weight of the masks.

CPAP users also frequently complain of dry mouth and eyes, which can be due to sleeping with the mouth open and air leakage, respectively. Changing the type of masks can easily resolve this issue.

Overall, CPAP machines have their own lists of pros and cons that need to be considered in detail before starting the therapy.

References

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure

CPAP Mask Types for Different Sleep Positions

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Therapy for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

 

 

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