Sleep Apnea and Snoring: The CPAP Machine
The first solution recommended by doctors for the condition of sleep apnea is the CPAP machine (Continuous Positive Air Pressure). The CPAP Supplies consists of a plastic hose from an air pump, feeding air under pressure into the nose through a mask fitted onto the face, so the tongue can’t fall back into the throat and the throat muscles don’t collapse. The wearer is forced to breathe through the nose as air is swallowed when the mouth opens. Nose breathing is leads to less snoring and apnea events.
In other words, CPAP machines blow air at a high enough pressure to keep your airway open while you sleep and your muscles are relaxed. Rubber straps around your head hold the mask in place to stop air leaking out around your face. The straps need to be tight enough to hold the mask in place but loose enough to be comfortable.
CPAP machines represent a non-invasive medical solution to deficient breathing at night. Sleep apnea machines are not a cure for sleep apnea, but appliances which help keep it under control, preventing the deterioration of the your health.
The use of sleep apnea machines drastically improves the quality of your sleep, by reducing the number of times you wake up choking and gasping. You can actually sleep for seven or eight hours completely undisturbed when wearing the mask. Getting used to using sleep apnea machines can be difficult particularly during the first few days of use, but this situation is quite understandable since sleeping with a mask and straps around the head is awkward.
It’s a nuisance to be attached by the hose to the machine, as there is not much leeway for natural movement to change position – the body rolls to re-distribute blood that pools when we lie still. You are restricted and that is uncomfortable. To solve this problem you can hang the hose from a wall hook to allow movement without dislodging the mask. The air pressure starts gently and ‘ramps’ up in intensity over a specified interval to reach the pressure your doctor or sleep technician has decided is right for you, though you can experiment for yourself.
Modern machines offer therapy tracking software and independent power options. The complexity level of the machine’s air delivery process determines the machine type.
- CPAP machines blow one constant pressure,
- APAP machines adjust on a breath by breath basis to your ideal pressure
- BiPAP machines blow at one inhaling pressure and another exhaling pressure.
Your choice of masks is quite wide, ranging from nasal pillows, vented and non-vented nasal masks and full-face masks, with or without humidifiers. Humidifiers alleviate dry sore throats and noses, but a problem can occur called ‘rainout’ which occurs when the relative humidity reaches 100%. At that point the air can no longer hold water and it ‘rains’ into your CPAP tube. The air from the humidifier condenses to liquid water, and the air blowing through your CPAP tube pushes down the water that has collected in your tube, and you can be awakened by a surprising dash of water in the face!
A few solutions are: ensuring the air temperature of the room is higher than when the rainout occurs as we know that warmer air can hold more moisture, reducing the humidification setting on your heated humidifier, using a tube wrap for insulation and getting a heated CPAP tube which reduces the chances of condensation.
Accessories include valves to introduce oxygen, pipe or tube wraps, pillows and pillowcases to encourage the right posture, pulse oximeters to measure oxygen in the blood, machine cords and cables, chin-straps, battery packs, mask cleaners, software and hardware. For Data Monitoring: your machine can be set to what suits you. The complexity of the data stored in the machine depends on the model you use. It should tell you the pressure at which the air is delivered, the starting pressure and the ramp time during which the pressure slowly increases till the necessary pressure is achieved. Ask your dealer to provide you with the literature.
Cleaning: As this device introduces air into your lungs and thereby into your body, keeping the various pieces of the equipment clean and sanitary is highly desirable. Wash mouthpieces and nose masks and hoses gently in warm water with a disinfectant solution. Dust and wipe down pumps with a soft dry cloth.