When it comes to sleep apnea treatments, the thought of being hooked up to a CPAP machine with its mask, straps, and tubing can seem like an unappealing and overwhelming prospect. Though the adjustment phase leaves people a little uncertain, they soon nestle into a new routine and find that they are getting more out of their sleeps than they ever could before.
Understanding the Equipment
People with sleep apnea can briefly stop breathing dozens of times an hour due to a congested or closed airway. Continuous positive airway pressure (i.e. CPAP) provides small quantities of air pressure to keep the passage of air open during sleep. There is a pump to control the pressure, tubing for the air to traverse, and a mask that dispenses the air to you, which covers your nose, mouth, or both.
The masks and straps can be awkward for anyone who hasn’t slept with something over their face before. It can take time to adjust to the point where you forget you are wearing a mask.
There are three common categories of mask:
- The full mask (covers both mouth and nose)
- The nasal mask (covers nose)
- The nasal pillow mask (fits under the nose)
You will also find full masks that cover the eyes and nasal masks that have prongs that enter the nose.
Remember that you want a good seal on the mask so that your air pressure stays constant and doesn’t dip due to leakage. It may take some trial and error, but you should eventually find the mask size, type, and strap configuration that best complements your particular face. A doctor or specialist should also be able to help with the fitting process.
Pressure Setting: There are a variety of pressure settings, and some units will change in the case that you’re inhaling or exhaling. Your doctor or specialist will prescribe your ideal pressure level.
Sound: Unlike the obnoxious and loud CPAP machines of yesteryear, modern CPAP machines are small, nearly silent, and much less conspicuous.
Feeling Dry: There are CPAP users that find a constant stream of air dries the mouth and nose overnight. Fortunately humidifiers are in many machines to remedy this issue and a few even heat the air.
Difficulty with Nasal Breathing: Those with sinus issues, allergies, or anatomical nasal problems may find a CPAP machine doesn’t work so well. The solution here lies in treating your blockage, whether that means through allergy treatment, medicine, or, in rarer cases, through surgery. Fixing the congestion will result in a more effective CPAP treatment.
Growing to Enjoy CPAP Machines
CPAP offers the best method for treating most cases of obstructive sleep apnea. The main issue is that most patients tend to shy away from a treatment that involves them wearing a mask. They often look past the benefits and view a mask tied to a machine as obstructive and uninviting.
The benefits go far beyond improving one’s sleep quality though; those that do not seek treatment are more at risk of strokes, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attacks, and other serious health-related issues.
Those that invest the time and effort into a CPAP treatment are amazed at the results and feel as though they were never truly sleeping before the CPAP alleviated their sleep apnea.