APAP- or Automatic Positive Airway Pressure devices function similarly to the CPAPs- Continuous Positive Airway Pressure units. Just like the CPAP medical grade devices, APAPs represent non-invasive therapies for patients with sleep apnea (or OSA- Obstructive Sleep Apnea). APAP devices deliver pressurized air into the airways of the patient, in order to prevent obstructions and collapsing of the airways. This pressurized air has the function of a “splint” by hindering collapsing of the throat while the patient sleeps. This way, patients can enjoy a restful night of sleep while getting enough air into the lungs, without any obstructions.
When it comes to sleep apnea treatment, the CPAP machines represent the most efficient choice. The CPAP will deliver a constant pressure of air into the lungs of the patient in order to prevent obstructions. The sleep technician is the one who will determine the exact amount of pressure required in order to maintain the airways open. Then, the technician or your physician will set your CPAP to function on that minimum required pressure.
A CPAP device can be set to function only on one type of pressure, for both inhalation and exhalation. This pressure will remain constant all throughout the therapy session. Once set, the air pressure coming from a CPAP machine will not change. However, an APAP can be set to deliver two different types of pressure. The APAP can be set to deliver a lower and a higher pressure of air. These pressures will keep fluctuating throughout the night and follow your natural breathing pattern in order to deliver the most comfortable type of pressure as you breathe in and out. Advanced algorithms will “sense” the changes in your breathing patterns and then the machine will auto adjust in order to deliver the most appropriate type of pressure.
The majority of CPAP patients complain about the difficulty of exhaling against a high pressure. Especially in the case of patients with higher pressure requirements, it is quite difficult to exhale without an “effort” to do so. An APAP machine will deliver the highest required pressure upon inhalation, when the patient needs the maximum pressure to have the airways open. However, upon the inhalation phase the machine will return to a lower pressure so that patients can exhale against a more comfortable pressure coming from the device. By the time inhalation phase begins, the APAP will revert to delivering the higher required air pressure to prevent obstructions and collapsing of the airways.
An APAP machine can also function as a regular CPAP, with same air pressure delivered constantly. In case it takes more time to become adjusted with the fluctuating pressures coming from the APAP mode, you can simply switch back to CPAP mode. Therefore, you can switch between the two modes as you see fit, until you will adjust to the new form of therapy with two different air pressures.
APAP machines follow your breathing patterns and personal requirements much better than a CPAP. For example, an APAP can lower the pressure setting on an automatic basis whenever you roll on your sides. When sleeping on your sides, apnea risk is reduced and therefore you do not need the highest required pressure setting to maintain your airways open. When you roll on your back again during sleep, the APAP machine will again increase the air pressure to the minimum required amount so that all your treatment needs are met. When lying on your back, the risk of events is much higher so this is when you need to get the highest possible support through air pressure to prevent obstructions.
Your system becomes most relaxed during REM sleep. This is also when your throat muscles become flaccid and therefore you need the highest pressure setting to avoid apnea events. An APAP machine can auto adjust to your needs and requirements during REM sleep offering you the best support during the deep sleep phase. On the other hand, a CPAP machine is typically calibrated based on your needs during REM sleep when you need the highest amount of pressure and support. However, during the other important stages of sleep you will still receive the same fixed pressure (higher amount), which might easily become discomforting before and after your AREM sleep phase.
The CPAP delivers a fixed amount of pressure regardless of the changes that might occur such as weight loss/weight gain when you need lower or higher pressures accordingly. The APAP machine can automatically adjust air pressures based on these health changes that might occur. When you use a CPAP and your needs change, you must go through a new titration study so that the physician can make the necessary changes on your device.
An APAP machine is highly responsive – An APAP machine can track your breathing pattern and follows the changes in your personal needs and requirements. The machine is capable of delivering the right amount of pressure at the right moment at all times during therapy.
APAPs represent the best choice for changing needs – APAPs indeed represent the best solution for patients who are overweight, those who struggle with blocked nasal passages quite frequently, patients with regular allergies, those who take sleeping pills/ other type of medication. The APAP can adjust to all these changing needs and deliver the right amount of pressure for sustained therapy.
Dual breathing device – APAP + CPAP- One of the greatest benefits of an APAP is that it functions both as an APAP and a CPAP. If you are finding it difficult to become compliant with your APAP therapy with fluctuating air pressure, you can switch to CPAP mode. The machine can also function as a CPAP delivering a fixed air pressure all throughout the therapeutic session. Many patients use the CPAP mode on their new APAP until they can gradually get used to the new fluctuating air pressure treatment.