How Does CPAP Work?

How Does CPAP Work
Written by Piotr Sawicki

How Does CPAP Work? CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. It is a type of therapy that makes use of mechanics to steadily generate air pressure which will then passed through your airways.

CPAP therapy is prescribed to patients who suffer from OSA or obstructive sleep apnea. This is a condition that causes your air passageways to collapse during sleep. One of the common characteristics of this condition is that you might wake up suddenly with a feeling of being chocked.

By providing a consistent amount of pressure throughout the night, the patient is able to sleep more comfortably.

There are three main methods via which air pressure is delivered using the CPAP machine:

  1. Using a face mask that encompasses your mouth as well as nose
  2. Using nasal prongs that are inserted into your nose
  3. Through a mask that only covers your nose.

Common Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a common condition that affects a significant percentage of the world’s population. In America for example, 22 million individuals suffer from one type of sleep apnea or another.

How can you know that you have obstructive sleep apnea? Let’s look at a few signs and symptoms below.

  • Continuous snoring
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Suddenly waking up with the feeling of being chocked
  • Dry throat when you get up in the morning
  • Headaches in the morning

There are certain factors that raise the chances of developing sleep apnea. These include

  • Having a thick neck
  • Being obese
  • Being a man. Studies have shown that males are more prone to obstructive sleep apnea than females
  • If you have a family history of obstructive sleep apnea

Components of a CPAP

CPAP machines come in three main components, a mask, hose and the machine which offers the mechanics of pumping air and providing the pressure.

The machine works by sucking air from the room. This air is then pressurized and released through a tube. The tube then delivers it to your air passageways. For people who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, the airways remain open allowing them to sleep better.

How to Begin the CPAP Therapy

In order to start therapy you need a prescription from the doctor. This is done through taking a sleep test. The process takes place overnight. You will sleep at the lab and the doctor will determine how much pressure you need to sleep comfortably.

Different individuals experience sleep apnea in different levels. This is why everyone needs an individual assessment.

Duration of CPAP Therapy

CPAP therapy is meant to be a continuous affair. Since it is only a mechanical method of dealing with sleep apnea, it doesn’t provide a cure.

Once you stop using the machine, your air passageways will once again close and you will go back to experience the full effects.

However, by losing weight, you can negate the effects of obstructive sleep apnea. Some patients find that they do not need to use the CPAP machine anymore as their breathing continues to improve.

Ramp Feature

Some modern CPAP machines come with a ramp feature. This allows pressure to start off slow and gradually build up over time.

Machines with ramp are excellent for first time users as they allow time to get used to the pressure.

Getting Results

The great thing with using your CPAP machine is that results are immediate. The only drawback is the getting used to phase. Most people have a problem adapting to breathing out of the pressurized air. With a bit of practice, you can finally get a full night’s sleep.

Effects of Using the CPAP Machine

Many first time users might experience some side effects with CPAP machines. It is important to note that they are completely normal and once managed will disappear over time. These include:

  • Irritation in the eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Dry mouth and nose
  • Discomfort in the chest. This disappears after a while
  • The bridge of the nose becomes sore

There are a few tips that can help you get rid of these effects. Some of them include:

  • using a silicon cushioned mask
  • Ensuring a properly fitting mask
  • Using a machine that comes with a humidifier. This will help keep the air passageways moist.

Conclusion How Does CPAP Work

Instead of having to undergo complex surgeries to correct your obstructive sleep apnea, the CPAP machine provides the best solution. It is the no.1 option recommended to people who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. You will be able to avoid expensive surgeries and enjoy a normal healthy lifestyle.

About the author

Piotr Sawicki

Leave a Comment