CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure and is the most popular treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). While there are other treatment options for OSA, CPAP is the one treatment that can offer immediate relief for most people with this sleep disorder.
You may start to see results as soon as you begin your CPAP treatment. CPAP therapy clears obstructions and causes most snoring to stop. As a result, you will feel an improvement in the quality of your sleep, from less daytime drowsiness to higher alertness during the day.
Over time, CPAP therapy may also lower blood pressure and also prevent or reverse serious health conditions such as heart disease. The air that CPAP machines deliver is generally ‘regular air’ and not concentrated oxygen. As such, CPAP is generally a safe medical treatment.
CPAP therapy works by pushing air into the back of the throat where throat tissues collapse during sleep. This collapse in the throat is the main cause of sleep apnea and snoring. CPAP treatment acts by ‘splinting’ the airway open, allowing for inhaling and exhaling of air.
Learn more about CPAP machines here.
You can get CPAP machines from many Durable Medical Equipment (DME) companies. Some DME providers specialize in sleep disordered breathing. You can search online for a reputable DME that specializes in sleep apnea, although it’s always best to consult with your doctor about your sleep apnea and CPAP therapy needs.
The average price for CPAP machines ranges from about $500 – $3000, with an estimated average price around $850. Many insurance companies cover the cost of PAP and BiPAP bilevel devices. This usually includes CPAP parts and supplies, such as the mask, hose, filters, and tubing.
The CPAP pressure is measured in cm/H2O, or centimeters of water pressure. The ideal pressure is usually determined by a technologist or by a computerized PAP machine. In the sleep center, the pressure is manually increased by a sleep technologist who monitors the patient’s sleep breathing. If there are hypopneas, apneas, or snoring, the pressure is increased.
There are some auto-titrating CPAP machines (APAP) that use a computerized algorithm and pressure transducer sensors to eliminate obstructive events while at home.
Generally, CPAP therapy is very safe. There are few medical treatments that are safer than room air. It is, however, very important to clean your CPAP machine and parts regularly to avoid the buildup of any germs. You can easily do this with a CPAP cleaner.
Although CPAP treatment is safe, a doctor’s prescription is often required in order to obtain a CPAP machine. You may also experience some minor side effects of using your CPAP machine. If this is the case, consult with your doctor to make the adjustments to your machine.
There are very few side effects of using CPAP machines. The most common issues with CPAP therapy relate to the contact points where the mask from the CPAP machine touches the face. Occasionally, the skin will become irritated as a result of the constant contact and pressure of the mask. This can be alleviated by mask adjustment and/or mask replacement. Speak to your doctor to find the best sleep apnea mask for you, or to get your current mask adjusted.
Another common side effect and complaint of CPAP treatment is dryness of the mucosal membranes of the nose, mouth, and throat. The continuous flow of air can dry out the airway. This problem can often be solved by using a heated humidifier with your CPAP machine. The humidifier adds moisture to the air, which can alleviate any dryness.
Learn more about side effects of using CPAP machines here.
For those that use CPAP treatment, the effect is often dramatic. CPAP therapy usually eliminates the majority of obstructive breathing events and prevents snoring. For CPAP treatment to work properly, you must work with your doctor to find the right CPAP machine, mask, and parts for you, and stay consistent with its use.
When you’re ready to start your CPAP treatment, take a look at our CPAP User Guide here.
© 2020 American Sleep Association.