CPAP Devices for Sleep Apnea
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If you suffer from sleep apnea, you know how it can negatively affect your quality of life. This serious sleep disorder may cause you to stop breathing for 10 to 30 seconds at a time while you sleep. It can happen up to 400 times each night. All that lost sleep can affect people of all ages. And it affects them in many ways — from headaches and irritability to more serious complications, such as pulmonary hypertension and even death. See your doctor if you think you have sleep apnea. One treatment device offers hope. It’s called a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device.
Path to improved wellness
A CPAP device fits over your face while you sleep. It includes a mask, tubes, and a fan. The mask and tubes are disposable. There are 3 main types of devices: the nasal pillow model, the nasal mask, and the full-face mask.
A CPAP uses air pressure to push your tongue forward and open your throat. This allows air to pass through your throat. It reduces snoring and prevents sleep disturbances. Your healthcare provider may prescribe a CPAP device after discussing your symptoms and health history. They may have you complete a sleep study as well. If your healthcare provider prescribes a CPAP, you should wear it whenever you sleep, even for naps. If you are significantly overweight or suffer from severe apnea, your CPAP may require higher air pressure.
While a CPAP will not cure sleep apnea, it will help you get a restful night’s sleep. Specific benefits include:
- Improved daytime concentration and memory.
- More energy during the day.
- Your bed partner’s improved sleep.
- Improved productivity at work.
- Reduced anxiety and depression.
- Regular sleep patterns.
- Lower blood pressure if your blood pressure is normally high.
Types of CPAP Devices
- One kind of CPAP device are nasal pillows
- One kind of CPAP device is a full-face mask
- One kind of CPAP device is a full-face mask with a chin strap
Things to consider
Some people have problems with their CPAP device. This is more common when they first start using it. If you have problems at first, don’t give up. Many times, the problems go away as you get used to wearing the device.
Common concerns with a CPAP include:
- You may need to try different shapes to find the one that is right for you.
- Dry, stuffy nose. Use a humidifier to moisten the air from your CPAP device. Using a nasal gel or nasal saline before bed can improve dryness. If very stuffy, consider using a saline nasal spray to reduce nasal congestion. This will improve nasal air flow.
- Blocked nose. Some people who have sleep apnea also have nose problems. Ask your healthcare provider if you have a nose problem that can be treated with a nasal spray. Surgery is sometimes also an option. People who breathe through their mouths don’t do as well with CPAP nose masks. A full-face mask may be a better option.
- Skin and nose irritation. This may occur because the device must fit firmly over your nose and cheeks. A different size or kind of mask may help. There are also special skin moisturizers made for CPAP device users. Some petroleum-based products can damage the mask, so ask your healthcare provider for more information. Some people also benefit from using nasal pillows that fit into the nostrils and relieve pressure on the bridge of the nose. Using a regular CPAP mask one night and nasal pillows the next night may help you feel more comfortable.
- Air leaks. Some people can’t keep their jaw closed while wearing the mask. A chin strap can help with this and keep the air from leaking.
- Pressure problems. Sometimes the pressure bothers people. This occurs when they you breathe out as the air blows in. Using a bi-level device that lowers the air pressure as you breathe out may be an option.
- Some people have trouble wearing the mask all night, every night. Keep trying. Start with an hour at a time. Once you get comfortable, you can increase your time.
- Tongue discomfort. Some people find that wearing a dental device that pushes the tongue forward makes the mask more comfortable. A more serious solution may involve throat or jaw surgery. Talk to your healthcare provider about your discomfort