CPAP therapy (or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) is used to treat sleep apnea. This is a serious condition where people have breathing problems during sleep. CPAP ensures that breathing remains normal and that the airway does not collapse when one is asleep. In this article, we explain to you how this treatment works and what you can expect when you undergo CPAP.
Understanding Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a medical condition that could potentially have serious consequences to a patient’s health People who suffer from sleep apnea often have their breathing start and stop while they are asleep. Many people with sleep apnea may not even know that they suffer from the condition. This is because when their breathing stops, the brain instantly wakes the person in order to restore breathing after which the patient then falls asleep again. The problem is the sleep-wake-sleep cycle is so brief that most people cannot remember even being awake.
In order to know if you have sleep apnea, one must infer from symptoms such as loud snoring, gasping for air, day time sleepiness. Irritability and waking up in the morning feeling very tired. One can use sleep oxygen monitors to detect when oxygen levels fall below a certain level and the data collected by such devices can help doctors arrive at an accurate diagnosis of the condition.
How CPAP Works
When your doctor recommends CPAP as a way of managing your sleep apnea, you get a machine that consists of a mask that covers your nose or one that covers both your mouth and nose. There are also CPAP machines that consist of prongs that are inserted into your nose. The mask is then connected to a tube which in turn is connected to a motor that blows air into the tube and thus into your body.
The air pressure created by the CPAP machine is regulated and blows at just the right pressure that is needed to keep your airways open. This way, the patient sleeps soundly and thus avoids most of the problems that are associated with sleep apnea
Benefits of CPAP Treatment
When you undergo CPAP treatment, not only does your quality of sleep improve but you also reduce the risk of high blood pressure as well as heart disease. CPAP treatment also ensures that problems such as snoring are significantly reduced or even eliminated altogether. One of the problems that many people encounter when using CPAP is a congested or runny nose due to the dry air that is blown into their lungs. One of the ways of getting around this problem is to use a CPAP machine that comes with a humidifier. Another common complaint is patients feeling claustrophobic when using the mask. In most of these cases, however, the feeling is caused by using an ill-fitting mask. Adjusting the mask to fit properly typically eliminates this problem.
Tips to Make CPAP Therapy Easier
If you continue having nasal irritation even after using a CPAP machine with a humidifier, you could try using a saline nasal spray that will eliminate this irritation. Some CPAP machines can also produce sound when operational which may disturb your sleep. An easy way to deal with this problem is to place some foam material under the machine. The foam absorbs the noise and vibration ensuring that you have a quieter night.