CPAP stands for "continuous positive airway pressure." CPAP is a treatment that delivers slightly pressurized air during the breathing cycle. This keeps the windpipe open during sleep and prevents the episodes of blocked breathing in persons with obstructive sleep apnea and other respiratory problems.
WHO SHOULD USE CPAP
Continuous positive airflow pressure (CPAP), sometimes referred to as nasal continuous positive airflow pressure (nCPAP) is the best treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. It is safe and effective in sleep apnea patients of all ages, including children.
A similar machine, called BiPAP (for bilevel positive airway pressure) is used as an alternative to CPAP.
These devices are useful for children with collapsible airways, small lung volumes, or muscle weakness that make it difficult to breathe.
CPAP or BiPAP may also be used for those who have acute respiratory failure, central sleep apnea, heart failure, or COPD.
HOW CPAP WORKS
CPAP works in the following way:
The doctor, nurse, or therapist will help choose the mask that fits you best. They will also help adjust the settings on the machine. The settings on the CPAP machine depend on the severity of your sleep apnea.
If you are using the CPAP machine, but your sleep apnea symptoms does not improve, the settings on the machine may need to be changed. Some patients can be trained to adjust the CPAP at home. Otherwise, you will need to make trips to the sleep center.
GETTING USED TO THE DEVICE
It can take time to become used to a CPAP device. The first few nights of CPAP therapy are often the most difficult. Some patients may actually sleep less or not sleep well at the start of treatment.
The patients who are having problems may tend not to use it for the entire night, or even stop using the device. However, it is important to use the machine for the entire night.
Common complaints include:
Many of these problems can be helped or eliminated by using a mask that is lightweight and cushioned. Some masks are used only around the nostrils. Chin straps, nasal salt water sprays, or humidifiers may also prevent side effects. Modern CPAP machines have many adjustments that can be made to make them more comfortable.
Continuous positive airway pressure; CPAP; Bilevel positive airway pressure; BiPAP