CPAP/BiPAP as a Treatment for Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a condition in which while the patient is sleeping their airway becomes narrowed and airflow pauses or decreases, this can be confirmed by a sleep study. CPAP or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure is the most common form of therapy for the treatment of OSA. CPAP machines increase the pressure in the airway in order to maintain a clear airway while the patient sleeps. BiPAP or bi-level positive airway pressure is a similar therapy that has two pressure levels involved so that the patient can breath out against the lower pressure.

For patients in need of sleep therapy there are many CPAP and BiPAP products available. Some machines have a set high and low pressure range prescribed by the doctor for patient comfort and automatically adjust the pressure within that range according to the patient’s needs while they are asleep. Other machines have one set pressure that must be set determined by their physician. Some machines have special comfort features such as humidification or oxygen therapy. At AMSR we also carry portable BiPAP machines so our patients can sleep easy regardless of where they are.

A CPAP machine has a mask that the patient wears while they sleep, AMSR offers 3 types of masks so that the patient can pick which is the best fit for them. The first type is a nasal CPAP mask that covers only the nose and pressurizes the air in that airway to decrease apneas. The second type of mask is a full face mask; this is for patients who breathe through their mouth. This prevents air loss through the mouth and can decrease dry throat and nose problems. The third type is a nasal pillow, these are very small in size and minimize the amount of material resting on the face during sleep. They are ideal for patients with allergies to interface materials, claustrophobia or facial hair. We generally recommend that our patients find a mask that is the most comfortable for them and they stay with that. Luckily all CPAP Masks and most tubing are made to a standard size, so you can choose any mask and it will function with your CPAP or BiPAP machine.

CPAP has proven to be an effective treatment for moderate to severe OSA. It helps relieve patients of the sleepiness and drowsiness that they experience while suffering from sleep apnea. However, treatment often doesn’t work immediately. Many patients need time to adjust to sleeping in a mask, and if the mask is removed in the middle of the night the treatment is ineffective. Once a patient is accustomed to sleeping with their CPAP machine and they use it daily they are able to decrease daytime sleepiness.

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