If you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea then chances are that you were told that you need a CPAP machine. But how do CPAP machines work and how will it help your sleep apnea?
According to SleepApnea.com, Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machines, most commonly known as CPAP machines, consists of a device that sends airflow through tubing to a face mask in order to keep your airway open during sleep.
Because a CPAP is a medical device, all CPAP devices must be approved by the FDA before they can be sold. For the same reason, you must have a physician’s prescription in order to obtain one.
It is estimated that between 18-22% of all Americans suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. The National Sleep Foundation states:
Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which breathing is briefly and repeatedly interrupted during sleep. The “apnea” in sleep apnea refers to a breathing pause that lasts at least ten seconds. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat fail to keep the airway open, despite efforts to breathe.
How CPAP Machines Work
How CPAP machines work is that it ensures that air is always flowing so that there are no pauses in your breathing while you sleep. According to VeryWell Health, modern CPAP machines work by filtering in room air (not oxygen) and pressurizes it according to settings prescribed by your sleep specialist.
Machines are set to deliver pressure from 4 centimeters of water pressure (CWP) up to a maximum of 25 CWP. This air is often passed through a heated humidifier and delivered via tubing to the mask interface; this is to reduce dryness of the mouth and other side effects.
The constant flow of pressurized air creates a cushion along the upper airway. Some have described it as a pneumatic (air) splint that keeps the throat from collapsing. According to Dr. Brandon Peters, the prescribed pressure level is often determined through a sleep study called a polysomnogram. However, it can also be set with an autotitration function (AutoCPAP or APAP) that automatically determines the pressure needed to keep your airway open. This prevents the soft palate, uvula, and tongue from shifting into the airway. It reduces the vibration that creates the sound of snoring.
It may also relieve swelling within the nose. By supporting the airway, breathing normalizes and sleep quality may improve as you are now able to get an uninterrupted, full nights sleep. Oxygen levels can be maintained while you sleep and the serious consequences and side effects of sleep apnea can be reduced or completely eliminated.
Types of CPAP Masks
The flexible tube that connects the machine to the mask is worn over the nose and/or mouth. The CPAP pushes pressurized air through the airway passage at a pressure high enough to prevent the throat from closing and can be prescribed for both obstructive and central sleep apnea.
While the machine is important, the single most important part of the CPAP is finding the best CPAP mask type and fit for you. Masks can come in many different varieties: nasal pillows, nasal masks, and full face masks.
According to the Mayo Clinic, full face masks cover your mouth and nose, with straps that stretch across your forehead and cheeks. These may make some people feel claustrophobic, but they work well if you prefer to breathe through your mouth during sleep. They also provide a stable fit if you move around a lot in your sleep.
Nasal pillows fit under your nose and straps that cover less of your face. These can feel less cumbersome. These may work well if you wear glasses or read with the mask on because some don’t block your eyes as much as full face masks do. However, this may not be an option if you move around a lot in your sleep or sleep on your side.
The Benefits of A CPAP Device
By using a CPAP machine, users drastically decrease, prevent, and reverse the risk of the serious side effects of sleep apnea.
If you have obstructive sleep apnea you’re at risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and more. These health risks can prove to be fatal if your sleep apnea is left untreated.
According to Sleep Education, some of the benefits of using a CPAP include increased daytime alertness, concentration, and emotional stability. Some more benefits include decreased snoring, sleepiness, and medical expenses.
If you get diagnosed with sleep apnea it might be confusing trying to figure out what a CPAP is and how it can benefit you. Suffering from sleep apnea is just the beginning of the risks to your health however a CPAP machine can help reduce the risks.
If you need a CPAP machine, remember that you also need to keep your CPAP clean. Get our Lumin CPAP cleaner today.