How Does CPAP Therapy Work?

how to cpap therapy

CPAP- Continuous Positive Airway Pressure- therapy implies the use of a medical grade device which helps patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnea receive enough oxygen into their lungs. The CPAP machine helps to increase the air pressure that goes into the lungs, in order to prevent collapsing of the airways when breathing in. Typically, OSA patients will use CPAP therapy during the nights, while sleeping. This is why they can enjoy a restful night of sleep and wake up refreshed after a good night’s sleep.

There are three different types of masks that can be fitted with a CPAP machine. There is the full face mask which covers both the mouth and the nose, the nasal CPAP mask covering only the nose and the nasal pillow mask which has silicone cushions that will fit into the nostrils. Patients have different preferences when it comes to selecting a proper mask for their therapeutic needs. Some prefer the full face mask while others opt for the minimalistic nasal pillows mask. The market is abounding with offers regarding masks, you just need to select the one that best suits your needs and personal requirements.

There are also two types of PAP machines available:

Fixed air pressure devices- these will deliver a constant burst of air into the lungs, depending on the setting required. Some patients need lower pressure, while others require higher pressures in order to maintain their airways unobstructed.

APAP machines- which are capable of delivering two different air pressure settings: a higher pressure upon inhalation and a lower pressure upon the exhalation phase. Some patients who need very high pressures in order to get required therapy will find it extremely difficult to exhale against that powerful burst of air. This is why an APAP machine will lower the pressure and deliver a gentle burst of air exactly when the patient exhales. By the time of the inhalation phase, the machine will return to the prescribed, higher pressure levels.

Your physician will be able to fit you with the correct type of machine and CPAP mask for your needs. Patients who have difficulties with exhaling against a higher pressure will not necessarily need to be fitted with an APAP machine. Many regular CPAP devices have a special feature called RAMP. This feature ensures to deliver a lower pressure of air for a pre-set period of time. This will help patients fall asleep at a comfortable pressure. However, when the ramp time is up (0 to 45 minutes), the machine will return to delivering the prescribed pressure levels.

What happens after ongoing CPAP treatment?

cpap machines therapy

CPAP treatment helps greatly with improving your quality of sleep and quality of life. When you struggle with sleep apnea problems it means you cannot breathe properly, you wake up often during the night and you wake up with headaches in the morning. With the help of CPAP therapy, you can finally enjoy good quality sleep. This means that after a restful night of sleep you will wake up refreshed and without headaches and feelings of confusion or excessive tiredness during the day.

Certainly, it will take some time until you become compliant with therapy. CPAP therapy is actually the most efficient non-invasive type of treatment for patients with OSA and other breathing related complications. Even if you are struggling to get used to your new therapeutic method, you will eventually become compliant and enjoy a much better quality of sleep and an improved quality of everyday life. Perhaps all it takes is making a few adjustments or choosing another type of mask and you are ready to accept more easily your new treatment.
Daytime sleepiness can become a major problem for OSA patients. Since they cannot get a restful night of sleep, they struggle with sleepiness, loss of concentration, anxiety and other problems during the day. This means they cannot fulfill their daily tasks successfully and this, in turn, will bring other problematic consequences.

What problems can you encounter if you are using CPAP for the first time?

  • A runny nose and sneezing
  • Sometimes abdominal bloating
  • Dry nose or a dry throat
  • Mask leaks when the mask does not fit properly and it does not offer a good seal
  • Irritation of the skin where the mask meets your skin
  • Nasal congestion

All these might be issues that can be somewhat irritating, but all of them can be remedied. You should talk to your doctor about these issues and he might recommend that you choose a better fitting mask for example. Or, you might have to use a heated humidifier and then get rid of the nasal congestion or dry throat problems. Further discomfort can be eliminated if you will use a BiPAP (Bi-level machine) instead of a CPAP. Many patients become therapy compliant much quicker if they can breathe in and out of different pressure settings.