CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. It’s a small machine that is set based on a prescription from a Sleep Doctor in order to gently blow pressurized air through your airway at night to keep your throat from collapsing. It is the Gold Standard treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea. When you use CPAP, your bed partner may sleep better too. You will feel more alert during the daytime , your mood will improve and you will have a better memory. Even one night of not using the machine can make you sleepy the next day. CPAP is a lifestyle change. The more you use CPAP, the better you will feel. It works best when used every night, for the entire time you are sleeping.
CPAP machines are composed of 3 main parts:
1) CPAP motor – The CPAP motor is basically a small compressor. These are now designed to be very quiet. It draws in room air and gently pressurizes it to deliver the perfect amount of air pressure that you need to clear the obstruction in your airway. The air intake portion of the machine has a replaceable filter that screens out particulates and impurities. Most newer CPAP machines also have a small water tank that, when turned on, heats up the water to provide moisture to the air you breathe in. These built-in humidifiers are ideal for people living in dry climates and those that frequently wake with dry mouth or throat.
2) CPAP Hoses – The hose is simply the delivery device that transports the pressurized air from the motor to the CPAP mask. While most hoses are 6 feet in length, the diameter of the hoses can be different depending on the machine that one uses. Most hoses are now heated to reduce water condensation accumulation caused by the humidifiers.
3) CPAP Masks – Most masks fall into one of three categories, nasal pillow that has soft plastic that fits into each nostril, a nasal mask, or a full face masks that covers the nose and mouth. The good news is that if one CPAP mask or device doesn’t work for you, there are many options. Everyone has a unique facial structure which is why it is so important to find the correct fitting mask for you. There are tools available online which can help you find the correct fitting mask.
It’s important to work closely with your CPAP provider to make sure you have a mask that fits you properly. Most masks come in different sizes. Just because you’re a certain size in one mask doesn’t mean you’ll be the same size in another. A good CPAP provider will show you how to adjust your mask to get the best fit and maximize comfort.
- A large range of CPAP mask styles and sizes are available. For example, some masks feature Nasal Pillows that fit into your nose and straps that cover less of your face. These can be less cumbersome, but may not work well if you require higher levels of air support.
- Nasal masks may work well if you wear glasses or read with the mask on, because some styles obstruct vision less than do full face masks. However, they may not work if you move around a lot in your sleep or sleep on your side.
- Some CPAP masks are “Full Face” which cover your nose and mouth, with straps that stretch across your forehead and cheeks. These may be less comfortable, but they work well at providing a stable fit if you move around a lot in your sleep. Full Face masks also work well if you tend to breathe mostly from your mouth while you sleep.
CPAP Hose –The hose is simply the delivery device that transports the pressurized air from the motor to the CPAP Mask. While most hoses are 6 feet in length, the diameter of the hoses can be different depending on the machine that one uses. Most hoses are now heated in order to reduce water condensation and reduce any accumulation of water inside the hose.
Humidifiers – Add moisture to the air coming from your CPAP machine in order to help reduce irritation to the nasal passages. Dry air can be uncomfortable leading to swelling and possibly narrowing of the airway. Many PAP (positive airway pressure) users experience nasal congestion and dryness of the nose and throat during treatment. This can be especially problematic for new users who are adapting to treatment. Humidification adds moisture to the air helping to reduce the symptoms of dryness and congestion. The two main kinds of humidifiers include: passover (cool) and heated. A passover humidifier means that air simply passes over a small water chamber at room temperature. A heated humidifier has a metal plate underneath the small chamber that heats up the water allowing it to pick up the moisture in the air. It is best to use distilled water to help keep your humidifier chamber clean and mineral deposit free. Tap water should not be used as it will leave hard white mineral deposits in the chamber as the water evaporates, or it may lead to mold growth.
CPAP Accessories – There are many CPAP Accessories now available to increase comfort with Therapy including: Nasal pads which can be placed over the bridge of the nose to help protect the skin from pressure sores developing, Chin Straps are often used if you are experiencing excessive mouth leaks and or dry mouth, Headgear can also be customized in order to improve fit, hose covers are used when sleeping in cold environments or if you have a non-heated hose in order to reduce rain-out or moisture from forming in the hose, CPAP hose lifts are designed to keep your hose from becoming tangled in your blankets while you sleep, CPAP pillows are specially designed to minimize mask leaks particularly for side sleeping, CPAP batteries allow for portability of your equipment so that you can enjoy going cord free while camping, for example. There are also accessories related to proper CPAP equipment maintenance including CPAP hose brushes and small machines you can purchase to clean your mask.
Tips For CPAP
Follow these tips to improve your quality of sleep with CPAP:
1.) Begin using your CPAP for short periods during the day before bedtime in order to give your brain a chance to adjust to the feeling and affects of the therapy. Even twenty minutes while reading or watching TV will help.
2.) CPAP is not a quick fix for your problem. It involves a long-term commitment to improve your sleep and your health. Make CPAP part of your bedtime routine.
3.) Make sure your mask is a good fit. The most common problems with CPAP occur when the mask does not fit properly.
- Increase your level of comfort by using a saline spray, decongestant or heated humidifier if CPAP irritates your nose, mouth or throat. Use your unit’s “ramp” setting to slowly get used to the air pressure level.
- Use a humidifier if you have a dry mouth, throat or nose.
- Clean your mask and tubing on a regular basis. It is recommended to clean your mask daily and your tubing and humidifier chanber at least once a week. Put this reminder in your schedule so that you don’t forget to do it. It is also recommended that you check and replace the filters on a regular basis.
- If you are having problems remembering to use your CPAP every night, find someone to help.
- Make small adjustments to the mask straps to increase your level of comfort.
4.) If the pressure feels too high as you are trying to fall asleep, use the “ramp” mode on your CPAP unit.
5.) Your adjustment to CPAP will be easier if you are able to connect with others who use the same treatment. Explore www.cpaptalk.com as a good source of online support who for people who have sleep apnea. Remember it takes some patients longer than others to adjust to CPAP therapy.
PAP therapy is widely regarded as the most effective way to treat obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and certain types of central sleep apnea (CSA). It works by creating a “pneumatic splint” for the upper airway, preventing the soft tissues of the upper airway from narrowing and collapsing. Pressurized air is sent from a device through to the upper airway via air tubing and a mask worn over the face.
CPAP, APAP and bilevel therapy
Positive airway pressure therapy can be delivered in a number of modes:
- Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), which delivers air at a fixed pressure.
- Automatic positive airway pressure (APAP), which automatically adjusts pressure levels based on a patient’s breathing. APAP may be suitable for patients with REM-related sleep apnea, positional apnea or who experience noncompliance with standard CPAP therapy.
- Bilevel therapy, which provides higher inspiratory pressure and lower expiratory pressure. Bilevel can be effective for patients who are non-compliant with CPAP, and is often the first line of treatment for a wide range of respiratory disorders other than OSA.
RESMED PAP Devices
1. AirSense™ 10 AutoSet for Her CPAP with integrated Humidifer - Women and men with sleep apnea exhibit different characteristics and face different challenges. That's why we created the AirSense™ 10 AutoSet for Her – the first sleep apnea therapy device designed to provide female-specific therapy. This self-adjusting device also has an integrated humidifier and the optional ClimateLineAir™ heated tube designed to optimize your comfort.
2. ResMed AirSense™10 AutoSet CPAP with Integrated Humidifier-The AirSense™ 10 AutoSet is a premium auto-adjusting device for treating sleep apnea. It automatically adjusts pressure levels to fit your changing needs to ensure you're receiving the lowest pressure necessary. It features an integrated humidifier and built in wireless communications, helping you to stay comfortable and more connected to your sleep apnea care team than ever before.