Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is a machine that produces a constant flow of positive pressured air to help keep airways open while you are sleeping. It can also be used to help premature infants whose lung development is not fully developed. It is the most effective treatment for sleep apnea.
The machine supplies a constant flow of air into a hose which is connected to a mask that covers the nose and mouth, and some only cover the nose. Some machines include humidifiers because pure oxygen can dry the nasal and throat tissues for the user.
Common problems include, trouble sleeping because of the mask, especially if it is not fitted properly. Forced air can also cause problems, but some machines include a ramp feature which starts out with a lower air pressure and gradually increases to the pressure that your doctor prescribed.
Claustrophobia is another draw back to the CPAP machine some people may experience the feeling of being closed in by a full faced mask.
Some of these machines are quite loud and may keep the person using it from falling asleep, so talk to your doctor to see if you can find a quieter model. Leaky masks can also cause skin irritations or pressure sores and if your mask leaks you are not getting the full effect of the machine. It can also effect your eyes as pure oxygen can cause drying or tearing eyes.
CPAP machines are expensive; however most people rent their machines and equipment, so work closely with your doctor and the durable medical equipment (DME) provider. The DME will bring the equipment to your home and set it up to your doctor’s specifications.
Benefits of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) include a decrease in daytime sleepiness; it can help lower blood pressure, and other heart problems. It is not as evasive as surgery. Many people start feeling better once their treatment starts and say that their attention span is better, fewer complaints about snoring, and less sleep disruption.
If you suspect that you may need a CPAP machine contact your doctor and discuss the options available for your particular needs. You will need to be monitored and adjustments will have to be made in order for the machine to begin to help with your sleeping problems.