Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is one of the major treatment methods for patients diagnosed with sleep apnea. A CPAP machine sends in humidified air through your nasal cavity, creating air pressure to keep your throat open while sleeping. Many people with sleep apnea who use CPAP have reported better sleep patterns and improved quality of life. But like all other treatment plans, it has its advantages and disadvantages. Let’s see if this equipment really does help with sleep apnea.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a medical disorder which causes a person to stop breathing several times during sleep. When that happens, it could mean that the brain, and to a large extent other significant parts of the body, do not receive adequate oxygen.
Medical professionals have identified two forms of sleep apnea. The first form, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), is due to an obstruction in the airway. This occurs when the soft tissue behind the throat collapses during sleep. The second, central sleep apnea (CSA), does not cause any blockages. Instead, it occurs when the respiratory system is unstable, stopping the signals in the brain which enable breathing from reaching the muscles.
Symptoms of sleep apnea
Here are some signs of potential sleep apnea to look out for:
- Snoring loudly
- Patterns of stopped breathing when asleep either observed by yourself or a sleeping partner
- Waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat
- Daytime drowsiness
- High blood pressure
For patients diagnosed with OSA, CPAP is often used as a treatment method. The standard CPAP machine is made up of a mask that can cover your nose and/or mouth with a tube that links the mask to a motor. Sometimes, there may be prongs for the nose. The motor pushes air through the tube and into the nose, ensuring that the airways stay open and respiration stays stable.
There are many types of CPAP machines available on the market, so it’s important to discuss your options with your ENT doctor or sleep technologists to find one which works best for you.
Many studies have found that people who use CPAP machines are most likely to feel the effects after about two weeks. If you have seen no improvement within that time frame, you must consult your sleep specialist.
Advantages of CPAP
When you use a CPAP machine, the pumped air frees up your respiratory tract, reducing the likelihood of snoring. Snoring reduces the quality of your sleep and can be potentially threatening to your health.
Improves cardiovascular health
Studies show that people who use CPAP machines for a full night’s rest are more likely to have fewer heart-related problems than those who use them for much shorter periods.
Improves breathing patterns
Using the CPAP machine will reduce the number of times your sleep gets interrupted due to irregular breathing, resulting in a healthier sleep schedule. When you wake up, you will be more refreshed and active instead of feeling drowsy throughout the day.
Disadvantages of CPAP
Can induce claustrophobia
Some users fear putting their masks on because of the suffocating feeling it has. It makes them anxious and increases the likelihood of experiencing panic attacks. This occurrence usually only happens for first-time users. If it doesn’t get better, your specialist may recommend you try nasal pillows instead.
The CPAP machine can sometimes be bulky and restrict your movement as you sleep. You will find yourself having to sleep on your back, which might not be easy if this is not your preferred sleeping position.
Can cause sore throat
Some CPAP users, especially newer ones, may experience dry, sore throats after using the machine overnight. To solve this, you could try a different mask style or use a humidifier with your device. Alternatively, your ENT doctor may prescribe some drugs to alleviate the problem.
Sleep Apnea and its Effects – are you at risk?
Everyone is at risk for developing sleep apnea, even children. However, certain factors may increase your likelihood of getting the disorder:
- Family history of sleep apnea
- People aged 40 and over
- Having large tonsils
- Being overweight
- Being male
- Having nasal blockages from sinus issues, or a deviated septum
People with sleep apnea are exposed to several health problems, usually when their condition is left untreated. Some of these health problems include getting headaches, cardiovascular issues, depression and diabetes. Sleep apnea may also affect the general daily activities of those experiencing it.
Thankfully, CPAP has a success rate of nearly 100%. So, yes, it can help with sleep apnea. In fact, it is the best non-surgical treatment method of this sleep disorder.
To learn more about how CPAP can relieve your sleep apnea and improve the quality of your sleep, get in touch with Louisiana Ear Nose Throat & Sinus. We are ready to help! Call us today at Baton Rouge (Bluebonnet Blvd): (225) 888-8630, Baton Rouge (Dijon Drive): (225) 769-1090, Denham, Springs: (225) 243-4211, Zachary: (225) 658-4334 and St. Francisville: (225) 769-1090.