Healthy Living

How a CPAP Machine Can Help People with Sleep Apnea

You've probably heard about sleep apnea and CPAP therapy by now. Your co-worker or your friend may have sleep apnea and have talked about their experience using CPAP. But what exactly is CPAP? CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. Naturally, CPAP therapy is considered the "gold standard" for treating obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and has been available for 30 years. It refers to the pressurized air that is delivered through a special delivery system which utilizes a mask. People with sleep apnea receive a prescription for their air pressure setting as well as a prescription for the specialized machine and equipment used to deliver it.

What is CPAP machine?

Doctors recommend using a CPAP machine to treat insomnia. The machine forces oxygen through the blocked or closed nasal passages so that you breathe continuously and do not wake up gasping or choking for breath. The machine also maintains a steady oxygen pressure that prevents the tissues in your throat from collapsing and as a result, you stop snoring. A CPAP device is not a cure for insomnia, but it can reduce the risk of elevated blood pressure, heart attack and abnormal blood sugar levels. Moreover, the device comprises a machine with a pump that controls the flow and pressure of air, a tube to transport air from the machine, and a mask that you don over your mouth and nose. Using a CPAP machine has many positive effects. It not only treats your insomnia, it minimizes daytime sleepiness, reduces symptoms of depression that many people with obstructive sleep apnea suffer from, and also reduces high blood pressure.

How does CPAP work?

People who have sleep apnea have problems with keeping the airway open for normal breathing as they sleep. Mostly commonly, the soft tissue in the throat and oral cavity relaxes or collapses, closing off the space needed for air to move through the nose and into the lungs. This leads to pauses in breathing that can happen consistently enough to deprive the bloodstream of the oxygen it needs to deliver to all the organs. The brain senses this drop in blood oxygen and forces an awakening. However, some people can experience more than 100 of these pauses and awakenings per hour for most of the night!

If this interrupted pattern of breathing is left untreated, it can create long-term health problems for the sufferer. CPAP was created to help keep these pauses from happening. The machine delivers a stream of pressurized air as a kind of "pneumatic splint" to help prevent the collapses that are characteristic of obstructive sleep apnea. By helping to keep the airway firm and open, the pressurized air provides the support necessary for the user to breathe freely and without obstructions.

Some people, when they start CPAP therapy, discover almost right away the relief of sleeping all night long without waking up once. Others may take their time to adjust, which is more much more typical.

For most people, these devices are the best choice to treat obstructive sleep apnea. The challenge for doctors and sleep specialists is to convince the wary that they’re better off with one than without it. Aside from poor sleep habits, people who don’t get treatment for the problem face a higher risk of heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, and other health problems.