How CPAP Works

CPAP is short for continuous positive airway pressure. The principle behind it is simple: forcing air into your throat will keep your airway from collapsing. At the same time, it will be supplying air to your lungs so that you will always have access to air.

CPAP has three essential parts: a pump that creates the air pressure, a mask that delivers the air pressure to you, and a hose that connects the two. Other accessories might be added to try to make the treatment more comfortable and effective.

In addition, there are a number of similar technologies with slightly different variations on the technique. APAP, auto titrating positive airway pressure, attempts to sense how strong your airway pressure should be and adjust itself. In BiPAP, bilevel positive airway pressure, the machine uses two different pressure settings to simulate and encourage your body’s natural breathing rhythms.

Challenges

If CPAP is a highly effective sleep apnea treatment, why do so few people actually use it? Because it is a nuisance.

The basic principle of CPAP creates an uncomfortable situation. Having air forced down your throat is not the same as breathing, and it can be hard for some people to adapt to it. The forced air can irritate your throat, dry out your mouth, nose, or throat, and it can make you bloated and gassy.

Although CPAP pumps are much quieter than they used to be, they still create some noise. For some people, this might be soothing一like a white noise generator一but for other people the noise is a constant irritation and makes it hard for them (or their partner) to sleep.

CPAP is also hard to use. You have to set it up every night, which includes finding a good spot for it, hooking up the mask, and putting it on.

In addition, you have to clean your CPAP machine regularly一many parts need to be cleaned daily. This can be difficult, but if you don’t, a dirty CPAP machine can be a source of infection, making you more likely to get sick, including an elevated risk of pneumonia.

Plus, CPAP can be uncomfortable to wear. The mask, straps, and nosepieces can irritate your skin. The tubing can restrict your motion, making it hard to sleep.

With the combination of all these factors, many people don’t wear their CPAP as much as they should.

Give Your CPAP a Fair Try

If you’ve been prescribed CPAP, you should try to make it work. Especially for people with severe sleep apnea, CPAP has important benefits. If your doctor and/or insurance company say that CPAP is best for you, it’s good to give it a fair try.

First, find the best mask setup for you. Depending on your anatomy and sleep apnea, you might have limited choices. However, you almost always have some choices, and trying them all out can help you find one that is more effective and more comfortable for you. Don’t feel like you’re stuck with your first choice. Sometimes a mask that seems comfortable at first gets uncomfortable when you use it.

Work with your sleep doctor to properly titrate the air pressure. Having the right air pressure helps you get good results with fewer complications.

Let your doctor and insurance company know about the problems you encounter. Sometimes accessories or additional adjustments can fix them.

However, it’s also important to know that most insurance companies have a set trial period for CPAP. If it’s not working for you by the end of the trial period, it’s important that you let them know so you can turn it in. Otherwise, you may be liable for the cost of a CPAP machine you don’t want and won’t use.

Find a CPAP Alternative in Columbus

It’s important to get your sleep apnea treated. If you’ve tried CPAP and it doesn’t work for you, it’s time to look for an alternative. Dr. Mike can help you find one that work for you.

To find a sleep apnea treatment, please call (614) 683-4640 today for a free consultation at Firouzian Sleep Wellness in Columbus.