Sleep apnea is an uncomfortable condition that affects a person’s ability to rest comfortably and adequately. Insufficient sleep can lead to a labile mood, fatigue, decreased concentration and memory, and even adverse health problems. However, there are several viable in-home sleep therapy options to guarantee a proper night’s rest and improve the overall quality of life.
CPAP: The All-Encompassing Methodology
Treatment with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) system is at the frontline of in-home therapy for sleep apnea. This sleeping disorder occurs when the tissue at the back of the throat degrades, causing snoring and the stopping of breathing. The treatment works by monitoring and continuing the constant flow of oxygen, keeping the airway open. A CPAP system is equipped with three pieces of hardware: a small monitoring machine, mask, and flexible tubing that connects the two. The specific air pressure settings are programmed by a doctor after examining the person’s needs during a titration study. Typically, the machine also contains a timed pressure setting, which starts the airflow at a low level and raises it while the person begins to exhibit symptoms of apnea in his/her sleep. The tubing, which is long enough to allow the person to turn over and move around in bed comfortably, connects the machine to the mask worn by the sleeping person. Masks vary in size and shape, from covering only the nose to the entire face, but they all create a seal to prevent leaks and maintain the appropriate level of pressure, allowing the airway to remain open throughout the night.
AutoPAP: The CPAP, Automated and Personalized
An automative positive airway pressure (AutoPAP) system is very similar to a CPAP. However, unlike a CPAP, an AutoPAP adjusts pressure automatically while the person sleeps. This system is beneficial for people whose sleep apnea causes a variety of airway changes throughout the night. As such, a single calibration setting, like that found with a CPAP, will not be sufficient in regulating oxygen flow and maintaining an open airway. AutoPAPs change in real-time to reflect actual breathing patterns, more adequately treating the condition in patients with more varied breathing and pressure changes.
Bilevel Pressure Machines: Covering All Angles
A bilevel sleep device is also similar to both CPAP and AutoPAP machines. However, its functions are two-fold and thus, more diverse and extensive. This machine assesses the pressure needs by taking both inhalations and exhalations into account and delivering two distinctly different, appropriate interventions. A bilevel mechanism, then, works like a ventilator, and can be used by patients afflicted by illnesses other than sleep apnea. The ability to cater to individual needs in such a precise manner opens it up to treating people with Parkinson’s, ALS, and others.
Having diverse treatment options allows doctors to make the best decisions for their patients. If a particular option does not succeed in one patient, there are other options to experiment with, giving patients with sleep disorders a plethora of ways to explore treating his/her individual symptoms in the most efficient way possible.