How does CPAP sleep apnea treatment work?


If you've been told that you need to use a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine to treat sleep apnea, you may be wondering how a CPAP machine works. Learn how these devices reduce snoring and sleep apnea using compressed air and what special measures you may need if you have central sleep apnea.

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CPAP machines have been used to treat sleep apnea since 1981. Dr. Colin Sullivan was the first to recognize the potential benefits of the constant pressurized air flow generated by his mother's vacuum motor. avoiding collapse of the throat.

Now that he discovered that with the proper mask, snorkel, and device capable of generating air pressure, the disease was resolved. It was a remarkable discovery, and it was initially greeted with skepticism. It will be five years before the devices are more available on the market.

How does CPAP work?

Modern CPAP machines operate on the same principles as the original machines developed by Dr. Sullivan. The pressure is now generated by smaller, quieter engines. However, the air in the room (not the oxygen) is drawn in through the filter and compressed according to the settings prescribed by your sleep professional.

The machines are configured to generate pressures from 4 cm of water pressure (CWP) up to a maximum CWP of 25. This air is often passed through a heated humidifier and channeled to the interface of the mask.

A constant flow of compressed air creates a cushion along the upper airway. Some describe it as an (air) tire that prevents the throat from falling off. This prevents the soft palate, uvula, and tongue from entering the airways. This reduces the vibration that the sound of snoring creates.

It can reduce swelling in the nose and clear mucus from the airways. By keeping the airways clear, breathing becomes normal and the quality of sleep improves as fragmented sleep resolves. The oxygen level can be maintained. The serious consequences of sleep apnea can be prevented .

Automatic CPAP machines differ slightly in that they can detect airway collapse by measuring resistance and respond by increasing pressure as needed throughout the night to further resolve sleep apnea. These devices will also check for a lower pressure and adjust it down if possible.

Side effects and risks

Some inevitably worry about the consequences of seemingly artificial or "unnatural" CPAP therapy. Fortunately, there are surprisingly few side effects.

However, to avoid side effects and ensure successful use, it is important that you have support when you first start using CPAP. Early communication with your healthcare team is important so they can help you solve problems.

Two of the most common problems associated with CPAP use are an inappropriate mask and a dry mouth. They can be reduced by adjusting the shape of the mask and hydrating. Likewise, air leaks, bed partner problems, and swallowing air ( aerophagia ) are all common and can be addressed to avoid interrupting treatment.

CPAP therapy does not make asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) worse. Rather than causing a stroke, therapy actually reduces the risk of having one.

The sinuses and inner ear are generally unaffected by treatment, although case reports suggest that slight pressure can be transmitted through facial tissues.

There is some evidence that a too-tight or restrictive mask can affect half-face growth in children, but treatments can be controlled and adjusted to avoid this.

Treatment of central sleep apnea

It is important to consider the special case of a related condition. Central sleep apnea is defined by pauses in breathing, which are characterized by a lack of effort in breathing rather than a collapse of the airways. Most of the time, this occurs in the context of a stroke, congestive heart failure, or the use of narcotics or opioids .

It can also occur in response to CPAP therapy itself in a condition called complex sleep apnea . For central sleep apnea, other treatments may sometimes need to be considered.

In particular, bi-level therapy is sometimes necessary. Bi- level therapy provides two pressures, one for inhalation and a lower pressure for exhalation, and you can adjust the pressure on the fly to compensate for pauses in breathing. In this temporary mode, the lungs are inflated to ensure the minimum number of breaths.

Additionally, a more sophisticated level of treatment called adaptive (or automatic) servoventilation can be used. This allows respiratory rate, volume, airflow time, and other variables to be monitored for those with significant breathing difficulties.

Get the word of drug information

Using a CPAP machine can take some getting used to and optimizing. Overall, you will likely find that given the benefits of CPAP therapy, its side effects are minimal and easy to overcome. Fortunately, you don't need to know much about how your machine works .

Be sure to check with your healthcare provider if you feel uncomfortable – a highly trained and board-certified sleep professional can assess your health, review your sleep study, and choose the best treatments to improve your condition. condition.

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