Nasal Continuous Positive Airflow Pressure in Sleep Apnea

Devices that keep the airways open at night by way of pressurized air are believed to be one of the most effective treatments for sleep apnea. There is more than one type of continuous positive airflow pressure (CPAP) that can be used and the choice of which is right for a patient is made by a doctor and is dependent upon the cause of the airway obstruction as well as the location of it.

Not all sleep apnea patients need the same amount of air pressure through CPAP therefore often it is necessary for them to spend a night in a sleep clinic or laboratory to be monitored. The three types of air pressure devices used are nasal continuous positive airflow pressure (CPAP), bilevel positive airway pressure and automatic titrating (auto)-CPAP pressure devices.

CPAP Most Popular Therapy

The most widespread therapy of the three is nasal continuous positive airflow pressure (CPAP) which is both safe as well as successful for patients from all age groups- from children right up to elderly individuals. This is also the most effective treatment for severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and mixed sleep apnea. This particular machine weighs in around five pounds and sits comfortably on a nearby end table or bedside table.

The mask connects to the machine by way of a tube and it fits comfortably over the patients nose and not the entire face. Throughout the night as the patient sleeps, the CPAP machine provides an adequate amount of air to the persons lungs by way of the tube. This sufficient level of air pressure keeps the airways from closing up or obstructing throughout the night.

Discomfort and SIde Effects

Many people find it difficult to get used to wearing the CPAP mask and may even find it uncomfortable. As well there can be side effects but the good news is that many of these are short-term. Some people find the mask frightening and disconcerting and for those who do, setting it to the lowest pressure possible is advisable for the first couple of nights. Some patients find their sleep patterns are different and downright difficult the first couple of nights but they quickly get used to the new sleeping arrangement.

Fitting is Important

Most patients do suffer one or more side effects and most are directly related to the mask. Often a well-chosen and well-fitting mask is often the best solution, especially one that has as little worry of leakage as possible. The side effects that can occur as a result of CPAP include dryness and irritation of the nasal passages and the throat, congestion in the nose and a sore and/or dry throat. The best solution for these problems is humidifiers (especially heated ones especially for CPAP users), nasal saline sprays and chinstraps.

Too much pressure can also be a problem and must be adjusted accordingly by a health care professional. Some patients develop a feeling of claustrophobia that makes them frightful and may make them decide to give up using the mask all together. One way to prevent this is by investing in a mask that is as lightweight and transparent as possible. Another idea is to get a mask that is known as a “nasal pillow” which means that it is used only around the area of the patients nostrils.