Sleep apnea is a common condition in which “breathing repeatedly stops and starts as you sleep.” (Sleep Apnea) It can cause a variety of different problems, like fatigue during the day, lack of concentration skills, slower reflexes, and cloudy thinking. Additionally, chronic sleep apnea can lead to a variety of different health conditions, like heart disease, diabetes, chronic high blood pressure, and weight gain.
The most common type of sleep apnea is called the obstructive version. In this case, the airway is blocked in some way or actually collapses during sleep. As a result, the sleeping patient cannot get enough air and is usually startled awake after stopping breathing for a period of time.
While sleep apnea can have potentially serious side effects, it can also be controlled through treatment, and one such method of treating the condition is through CPAP equipment.
What Is CPAP Equipment?
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute describes CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, as a “mild air pressure to keep the airways open. CPAP is typically used by people who have breathing problems, such as sleep apnea.” (What Is Sleep Apnea)
The CPAP treatment process uses a machine with three different parts:
- The motor, which is used to blow a continuous stream of air through the tubing system;
- A tubing system that connects the motor to a mask, and
- A mask (which can range in type and style) that fits over the mouth and nose so that air can be provided to the airways while the patient sleeps.
Each of the parts to the system can vary in style and capability. For example, many machines also include extra features, like lightweight design, quiet operation, and humidifiers built in.
There are three main types of mask or facial device as well. For example, two different mask styles are available. One covers the nose and mouth. The second covers the nose only and is referred to as a nasal CPAP. The third type of device is simply a line of tubing with prongs that fit into the nostrils. The most common type is the nasal CPAP, although a patient can discuss each option with their doctor to determine which will work best in their case.
The CPAP equipment will prevent obstructive sleep apnea since the continuous flow of air will keep the airways open.
When Can CPAP Be Used?
CPAP is considered the most effective treatment for sleep apnea for patients who opt to forgo surgery. (Sleep Apnea Health Center) It is so effective that it can be used for patients with moderate or even severe cases of the condition. Additionally, the equipment can even be used by patients who suffer from sleep apnea in conjunction with other conditions like heart failure.
Studies have shown that people who suffer from sleep apnea and use the CPAP equipment:
- Are less sleepy during the day
- Have lower blood pressure
- Are less likely to suffer from heart failure
- Are more alert and find it easier to think during the day
As a result, CPAP is considered the premier treatment for sleep apnea.
What about Discomfort?
Of course, many patients are concerned about the comfort of using CPAP equipment all night. However, because there are different devices and a variety of types of masks and features for the equipment, any patient can discuss their options with their physician to ensure the utmost in comfort so that they can get a sound night’s sleep.
Sleep apnea is a frustration and it can have serious effects on a person’s health. However, CPAP equipment offers a safe, comfortable, and truly effective way of treating the condition.
Sleep Apnea. (n.d.). Retrieved June 9, 2014, from HelpGuide: http://www.helpguide.org/life/sleep_apnea.htm
Sleep Apnea Health Center. (n.d.). Retrieved June 9, 2014, from WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/sleep-apnea/continuous-positive-airway-pressure-cpap-for-obstructive-sleep-apnea
What Is Sleep Apnea. (n.d.). Retrieved June 9, 2014, from NIH: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/cpap/