What is a CPAP Machine?
CPAP (pronounced SEE-pap) stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. A CPAP machine is used to treat the symptoms of multiple diseases and conditions that can negatively affect a person's sleep. CPAP machines work by blowing air down your airways at night to help keep your airways open so that you have proper uninterrupted breathing while you sleep. A CPAP machine is comprised of a small air compressor, hose, and face mask that you wear while using the machine.
What Conditions or Diseases are CPAP Machines Used For?
CPAP machines are primarily used at home for people that have a condition known as obstructive sleep apnea. People that have obstructive sleep apnea have difficulty sleeping due to their airways become restricted, usually due to excess adipose tissue, a recessed chin, or the muscles in the back of the throat relaxing too much.
CPAP machines can also be used in the hospital when patients develop excessive fluid in their lungs, making breathing difficult. The CPAP machine aids breathing by building up air pressure in the lungs to counteract the excessive fluid, which improves breathing.
What Symptoms Can a CPAP Machine Help With?
Obstructive sleep apnea typically has the following symptoms:
- Loud snoring
- Daytime drowsiness
- Feeling like you didn't sleep well regularly
- Being awakened by gasping for air or choking
If you sleep with a partner, your partner may also observe that your breathing seems to start and stop while you are sleeping.
What Should I do if I think I Would Benefit from a CPAP Machine?
If you experience, or if your partner observes, the symptoms mentioned above, consult a medical professional. You may be referred to a sleep specialist for further diagnosis and treatment.
What Happens if I am Prescribed a CPAP Machine?
If you are prescribed a CPAP machine, your doctor may refer you to a home equipment provider that will help you get setup with the best option. Your doctor will also help to determine the correct settings for the CPAP machine.
What are the Pros and Cons to Using a CPAP Machine?
CPAP machines are an effective and widely used nonsurgical treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. Use of a CPAP machine will typically reduce or eliminate most symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, permitting proper and uninterrupted sleep. Over time, CPAP machines can reduce daytime drowsiness, lower blood pressure, and can even reduce heart problems.
Common side effects of CPAP machines can include dry nose, sore throat, sneezing and nasal congestion. It can also be difficult to get used to the feeling of wearing a face mask while sleeping.