What’s a CPAP Machine?
CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure so you can probably guess what a CPAP machine’s function is. The CPAP’s purpose is to help people diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) breathe and sleep comfortably through the night. OSA causes interruptions or temporary pauses in a person’s breathing, often because the airway collapses or something momentarily blocks it. With the CPAP device, a steady flow of oxygen is sent into the nose and mouth during sleep. This helps keep the airways open and keep the OSA patient breathing normally.
The CPAP machine has a compressor that generates a continuous system of pressurized air that travels through a filter into a tube. This tube delivers the air into a mask that’s sealed around your mouth or nose. As you sleep, the oxygen stream from the machine pushes against any blockages, opening the airways so plenty of oxygen can be delivered to your lungs.
Thanks to CPAP, problems getting adequate sleep are minimized if not corrected altogether. Because there is no longer anything obstructing the airway, breathing never pauses, so the number of times you wake during the night to resume breathing is significantly reduced.
Is CPAP Really Necessary?
The short answer is yes. It’s incredibly important to treat OSA as oxygen is vital for heart health. Lack of oxygen puts a lot of pressure on the cardiovascular system. During apnea, not only do you have lower blood oxygen levels but you also have elevated levels of carbon dioxide which can lead to headaches, fatigue, or memory loss and hinder productivity during work hours.
Ignoring your OSA simply because you dislike wearing your CPAP device or are experiencing “CPAP problems” can ultimately put you at risk for the following conditions:
- Stroke - A stroke can cause severe disability or death. In the case of disability, if you have OSA you may have a more difficult recovery time.
- Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) - CHF occurs because your heart is unable to pump enough oxygenated blood into your system. As a result, fluid builds up in various parts of your body including your lungs, making it difficult to breathe.
- Atrial Fibrillation - Symptoms of atrial fibrillation include irregular, quivering, and rapid heartbeat. Periods of apnea combined with an irregular heartbeat can be fatal.
- Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) - With CAD, plaque builds up in your artery walls, narrowing them and restricting blood flow to your heart. CAD can lead to heart attack.
One of the biggest “CPAP problems” among patients is that the device is anything but attractive. Another is getting used to the hardware. However, you should not let this deter you from using it because not only will it provide you with a good night’s sleep but it will help prevent more serious health conditions from developing and save your life in the long run. Instead, take the time to learn the ropes, practice easing into it, and become comfortable with all of its working parts.
At Valley Sleep Therapy, we can help you choose the right machine, accessories, and supplies to ensure you can relax and rest easy. Don’t have a prescription or need your current prescription renewed? Schedule your sleep consultation today