What Is CPAP?
CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, is a treatment that uses mild air pressure to keep the airways open. CPAP typically is used by people who have breathing problems, such as sleep apnea.
CPAP treatment involves a CPAP machine, which has three main parts:
- A mask or other device that fits over your nose or your nose and mouth. Straps keep the mask in place while you're wearing it.
- A tube that connects the mask to the machine's blower.
- A blower that pushes air into the tube.
Some CPAP machines have other features as well, such as heated humidifiers. CPAP machines are small, lightweight, and fairly quiet. The noise that they make is soft and rhythmic.
CPAP often is the best treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a common disorder that causes pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep. As a result, not enough air reaches your lungs.
In obstructive sleep apnea, your airway collapses or is blocked during sleep. When you try to breathe, any air that squeezes past the blockage can cause loud snoring. Your snoring may wake other people in the house.
The mild pressure from CPAP can prevent your airway from collapsing or becoming blocked.
A CPAP is a medical device that is prescribed only after a positive sleep test result. To begin this process click here.
If your doctor prescribes CPAP, you'll work with respiratory therapist from goodnight medical to select a CPAP machine and mask that will best fit your needs.
Your doctor will work with you to make sure the settings that he or she prescribes for your CPAP machine are correct. He or she may recommend an overnight sleep study to find the correct settings for you. Your doctor will want to make sure the air pressure from the machine is just enough to keep your airway open while you sleep.
There are many kinds of CPAP masks. Let a respiratory therapistfrom goodnight medical know if you're not happy with the type you're using. He or she will help in finding the proper fit for you.
Benefits of CPAP
CPAP has many benefits. It can:
- Keep your airway open while you sleep
- Correct snoring so others in your household can sleep
- Improve your quality of sleep
- Relieve sleep apnea symptoms, such as excessive daytime sleepiness
- Decrease or prevent high blood pressure.
With CPAP, you may fall asleep faster and wake fewer times during the night. The pauses in breathing that are typical with sleep apnea won't disrupt your sleep.
Studies also show that treatment with CPAP is linked to a decrease in reported car accidents and near accidents. Some studies have shown that CPAP improves reaction time, concentration, and memory in people who use the treatment.
Many people who use CPAP report feeling better once they begin treatment. They feel more attentive and better able to work during the day. They also report fewer complaints from bed partners about snoring and sleep disruption.
You may feel better after the first night of using CPAP. You may wake feeling refreshed, alert, and in a better mood. You also may feel less tired during the day.
However, it can take a week to a month to adjust to CPAP. Some people have trouble falling asleep when they first start using CPAP. This problem usually is short term and goes away as you adjust to the treatment.
Even if you don't notice a change right away, stick with the treatment.
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For information on when you should replace the parts of your CPAP, click HERE.