CPAP, standing for continuous positive airway pressure, is a commonly prescribed sleep therapy for individuals suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. With almost 22 million Americans suffering from sleep apnea, CPAP therapy is the most widely used method to curb the negative side effects of sleep loss.
What is CPAP Therapy?
CPAP therapy is a machine that sends a constant flow of airway pressure to the throat. This makes sure that the airway stays wide open during sleep. The result is the treatment of the spontaneous pauses in breath caused by obstructive sleep apnea.
There are several different CPAP therapy models distributed to individuals seeking treatment for sleep apnea. Most often, a CPAP machine will include a nasal or full-face CPAP mask and a CPAP hose measuring around 6-feet in length.
Some CPAP machines also provide heated humidifiers that add moistures to the air. This makes for a more comfortable experience for the user.
Five Commonly Asked CPAP Questions
Hundreds of people who choose to get a consult with sleep specialists are instructed to use a CPAP therapy machine in order to improve their quality of life. The positive impacts of using a CPAP machine include less snoring at night, fewer obstructions while breathing, and a decrease in drowsiness during daytime hours. Additionally, many people who use CPAP devices have found that CPAP therapy has positive impacts on their blood pressure, mood levels, and cardiovascular health.
While making the adjustment, however, many people have questions about their new mechanism and about the nature of CPAP therapy. Listed below are 5 of the most frequently asked CPAP questions and answers.
1. What exactly do I need to buy?
As a new user, you will need to acquire a CPAP machine and CPAP mask. Typically, all CPAP machines come with a power cord, filters, and a hose or tubing included. The masks are sold separately. There are more advanced set-ups that could include:
- Machine software
- CPAP mask strap pads
- Insulated hose coverings
- Extra filters
- Comfort and cleaning accessories
If you have questions about your specific machine, be sure and consult with your sleep specialist.
2. Why does air leak from my mouth when I use my machine?
If your mouth is opened during the use of your CPAP machine, air will leak. Most often, this is due to a nasal irritation from the CPAP airflow. If there is mouth leakage, there's a possibility that the following could be occurring:
- There is ineffective or no humidification in your machine
- The nasal membranes aren't able to condition the airflow and results in the nasal passages becoming too dry
- The body uses the mouth to breathe to compensate for dryness
Exploring how exactly to get humidification into your machine is the answer to this problem. Many CPAP users also use a chinstrap to avoid the mouth from falling open while asleep. Some individuals who find prolonged issues with the mouth falling open choose to get a full face mask.
3. How can I travel with my CPAP machine?
First, know that the CPAP machine does not count against how many items you can carry on an airplane. When you arrive at security, let airport personnel know that you are carrying a medical device called a CPAP unit with you if you are asked. Most agents will know what it is and will allow you to proceed with no extra steps. However, just in case, we always recommend that CPAP users arrive at the airport with an extra 20 minutes to spare in case extra screening is necessary.
If you need to use your CPAP machine will on board the plane, you can use batteries or make sure that you're seated near an electrical outlet. Ask a gate agent before boarding the plane in case you're not sure if your seat has the proper accommodations.
Make sure that you have spare parts and a back-up mask with you if you're taking a long trip. Consult with your sleep specialist if you're unsure of where to purchase these items.
4. How often am I required to use my CPAP machine?
You must use your CPAP device on a daily basis in order to increase the effectiveness of the therapy. If you skip a nap or a nightly sleep, you will most likely experience drowsiness upon waking if you are diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. If an individual has sleep apnea, it means that the air passage is being obstructed and that oxygen is being deprived from your body. This can have long-lasting negative health impacts. Because of this, it's very important that CPAP machines are used as frequently as possible. After a CPAP user makes it a habit to utilize the device habitually, usage becomes a part of daily life and is no longer thought of as a hassle.
5. How long will I have to use CPAP therapy?
CPAP machines provide treatment, not a cure, to obstructive sleep apnea. Therefore, this is a continuous therapy that must be used on a daily basis as long as an individual has sleep apnea. Although this fact might seem daunting to many, it's important to realize that CPAP therapy is the most effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnea and is little hassle in the long-run when realizing how the body would react if sleep apnea were left untreated.
Those who have untreated sleep apnea or neglect to use their CPAP device could suffer from:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Acid reflux
- Car accidents
These side effects could result directly from obstructive sleep apnea. Therefore, if a patient is prescribed to use a CPAP machine by a sleep specialist, it is highly important that he or she does so on a continuous basis.
Further Questions about CPAP Therapy
If you still have unanswered questions about CPAP therapy or how to use your CPAP machine, sleep specialists at the Anchorage Sleep Center are ready to consult with you to make sure that you are getting the maximum benefits from your treatment.
If you believe that you may have undiagnosed sleep apnea, it is highly advised that you seek a sleep consultation from a board certified sleep specialist as soon as possible. You may be eligible to receive a sleep study to diagnose a sleep condition.
Contact the Anchorage Sleep Center by sending us a message online. We look forward to helping you answer your CPAP-related questions so that you can achieve your best sleep possible.