What is a CPAP Machine
A CPAP device/machine stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. A CPAP machine is a small, rectangular box with a motorized fan inside and an adjacent humidifier. It is the primary tool used in CPAP therapy and is considered the gold standard for treating obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Connected to the CPAP device is a flexible tube that leads to a breathing mask. The hose is a lightweight and kept warm in order to reduce condensation. Among other things, too much condensation can lead to sanitation problems like, namely, mold growth.
Finally, the primary component in CPAP machines is a small fan inside. The small fan inside delivers gentle, positive pressure through a connected hose to the breathing mask. The result, no more lapses of breathing at night because the positive air pressure keeps your airway open. The pressure can be a little strange at first, but it’s rare that people report any long terms problems associated with it.
Recent advances in CPAP technology have dramatically improved the performance, usability, and comfort of CPAP machines, and they are far and above the most popular response to OSA.
What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when your upper airway becomes blocked while sleeping. This happens with your breathing muscles in the back of your throat relax, causing the back of your throat to collapse fully or partially, blocking your airways. You will then not breathe for a period of time and have to rouse yourself to wake up. You will not remember rousing I the morning, and this can happen hundreds of times per night.
Some of the most common symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea are:
- Loud snoring
- Restless sleep
- Morning headaches
- Severe daytime sleepiness
- Chronic irritability
Sleep apnea is associated with high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. In general, the sleep deprivation is causes leads to:
- Shorter life expectancy
- Lower quality of life
- Lower performance in many areas of life
CPAP is the primary way to treat OSA.
How to Ensure Your CPAP is Effective
There are several things you can do to ensure that your CPAP machine is working optimally:
- Make sure that the seal over your airways is night enough for pressure to form
- Buy a type of CPAP mask that feels comfortable and is functional, there are several variations
- You might consider rotating different types of masks for comfort
- Buy a CPAP with a humidifier, as it will help keep your mouth/nose from drying out at night
- If it’s within your budget, get a CPAP that has a built in heater, which will make the air comfortable and help prevent mold from growing
- Take proper care of your machine!
Let’s look at best practices for taking care of your CPAP machine.
How to Take Care of your CPAP Machine
Taking care of your CPAP machine is critical for it to perform well and last a long time. In other words, if you don’t take care of it you won’t get the most out of it. Here are best practices for taking care of your machine:
- Wash your CPAP mask daily – you can start by following the manufacturer’s instructions
- Wash your humidification chamber each day, using either warm water and soap or a vinegar solution
- Clean the tubing at least once a weak with warm water and a mild detergent using a CPAP brush
- Wash the nasal pillow of your mask at least several times per week and let it dry completely
Benefits of CPAP
The reason CPAP therapy is so popular is because it is:
- Extremely effective
- Not intrusive
- Long term solution
- Not terribly expensive
- Usually covered by insurance
Additionally, CPAP therapy makes dramatic differences in OSA sufferers’ lives by allowing them to live sleep-deprivation free.
If you live in Alaska, and are concerned that you or a loved one has sleep apnea or has already been diagnosed, please take this online sleep test and start the road to recovery: