Understanding the CPAP Machine

Dr. Dan JensenCPAP Machine, Research

Understanding the CPAP Machine
Dr. Dan Jensen

If you’ve gotten a review by a doctor and its has been determined you have obstructive sleep apnea, the treatment to help you achieve quality sleep and improve your life by alleviating the issues associated with sleep apnea likely involves the use of a CPAP machine. Remember, at Sound Sleep Medical we are committed to your health – sleeping and waking – and we will make sure you understand your treatment options and work with you to achieve the best possible, most comfortable outcome.

What is the CPAP Machine?

First, CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. Airway pressure therapy uses a machine to combat the obstructions that lead to sleep apnea. As the professionals have told you, when you sleep your muscles relax and that includes your throat muscles. Your muscles are relaxing to the point that they are obstructing your breathing and causing your brain to startle you awake – sometimes as many as 20 times a night. As you can imagine this gulping for air and startled jolt is not restful for you or your bed partner!

The machine involves a mask covering the front of your face around your nose and mouth, or, it can involve just a nasal mask that covers your nose. It has pillowy cushions that comfortably seal around the nostrils so you get the full benefit of pressurized air that helps your breathing.

Air pressure therapy

Positive airway pressure is the most effective way of treating sleep apnea, even in the most severe cases! Now, when we are talking about pressurized air, we aren’t talking about a giant obnoxious blast of air that no one will be able to sleep through and no one will find comfortable. The machine blows room temperature air through an airway at a pressure just high enough to keep the throat open. Sleep apnea is caused when the back of the tongue relaxes and collapses against the soft palate and the palate then blocks the back of the throat.

The stream of air pressure acts as a sort of splint to keep everything open. The obstructions can’t be removed because they are necessary tissue and more often than not, there are more than one obstruction so you can see the pressure keeping things open IS the best treatment option.

Communication and adjustments

There are different types of CPAP machines. There are ones that offer fixed air pressure and more expensive ones that automatically adjust the air pressure as you breath out and then breath in. Some people find these more comfortable. With any machine, its going to take some time to adjust. And we are certainly available to help with any and all adjustments and talk to you about what is going on. After several days on the machine, it should start getting more comfortable and if it’s not – call! The mask needs to fit properly and sometimes a different mask will help or sometimes adjusting the air pressure will help.

Some patients have reported a dry nose and throat. A humidifier can help with that and so can a nasal spray. Some patients report excessive dreaming the first couple days of using the machine and there may be some nasal issues such as runny nose or sneezing. The CPAP machine is the best treatment so these issues can be overcome with adjustment or getting used to the machine. We have more than 25 years of experience helping patients with sleep apnea and other disorders and you and the quality of your life are going to benefit from this experience.

Things to remember

More than 18 million Americans are affected by sleep apnea and in addition to the CPAP machine there are some lifestyle changes we may recommend that can also improve your sleeping. Carrying excessive weight, untreated high blood pressure, smoking and family medical history all play a part in sleep apnea and we go through all of these issues with you. You need to use the machine every night and you need to leave the mask on or you will be sleepy during the day. We are committed to getting your treatment right and making a difference in your life. You’ll experience more energy, a better mood and a general better overall health.

For more information, contact us at Sound Sleep Medical today.