“CPAP” stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, which is what many people with Obstructive Sleep Apnea need to sleep through the night without missing out on any oxygen. Obstructive Sleep Apnea is when muscles of the upper airway are not strong enough to stay open to allow for normal breathing during sleep. If you've ever heard someone sleeping, and they suddenly stop breathing for a few seconds, and continue breathing again with a sudden jerk or gasp, that is what happens with those who have Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
Many people won't realize that they have Sleep Apnea, unless someone who is with them while they are sleeping can see what is happening, and let them know. There are other symptoms that occur while you are awake, such as fatigue during the day, a dry and sore throat every morning, morning headaches and trouble concentrating. You will have to be monitored by your doctor to determine if you have Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
Who Needs to Use CPAP?
Some people with severe OSA will stop breathing as many as 100 times per night. This can be dangerous, as you are not receiving enough oxygen during the night. Anyone of any age can have OSA, and it can occur at any age, from children to seniors.
In older people, obesity is usually the cause of the onset of OSA. The muscles aren't able to support the soft tissue of the throat, and thus it will begin to close during sleep. In children, it can be caused by enlarged tonsils and adenoids, birth defects, or a tumor in the airway. Left untreated, OSA can lead to serious health problems, such as heart disease.
How to Get a CPAP Machine
You will need a prescription before purchasing a CPAP machine, since the air it delivers is considered a medication. What it does, is deliver air through a face mask while you are sleeping, which will help keep your upper airway open enough, so you won't stop breathing during the night.
Your primary caregiver will order an overnight sleep study, to monitor you while you sleep to determine the severity of your OSA. After that, you will be refereed to a sleep specialist, who will run further tests and write a prescription for use of a CPAP machine for you to use every night at home. Once you have your prescription, you can select a CPAP machine. Your sleep specialist or primary caregiver can help you shop for a good one, or you can contact or customer service specialists, who will help you find the best one for you.
What to Expect While Using Your CPAP
Using a CPAP machine takes some getting used to. Features such as humidifiers and gradual pressure rising are there to add as much comfort as possible, especially to those who have just started using their new CPAP machine. Choosing a mask that is the right size is also extremely important, not just for comfort, but to make sure you are receiving the air properly. Our staff is here to help you find the right sized mask, as well as the best accessories and machine for you.