Sleep apnea is a serious condition that affects many people and can go undiagnosed for long periods of time. If you think that you have some of the symptoms and side effects associated with sleep apnea, it is advisable to seek medical advice.
There are a number of different treatments for sleep apnea, ranging from changes in lifestyle to surgery under general anesthetic. Treatments vary depending on the severity of the particular case. Unlike many other serious illnesses, sleep apnea is usually very treatable.
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when there is a blockage or narrowing of the airway, making it harder for air to travel in and out of the lungs freely.
Sleep apnea machines are one type of treatment for certain cases. If someone has a moderate or severe case, they may be recommended to use a machine for sleep apnea. They work by assisting the night time breathing of the person affected. By blowing pressurized air into the person’s throat at the right pressure, it will help to keep the airway open and significantly reduce the chances of the person getting sleep apnea. A sleep machine for sleep apnea will help the person have a more relaxing sleep and a more normal sleep cycle. It may also help to reduce the symptoms and side effects.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
The most commonly used sleep apnea machine is the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine. You will undertake a sleep study before you are prescribed a CPAP machine.
This may involve a…
- Polysomnogram (PSG) – An overnight sleep study analyzing several factors such as oxygen levels in the blood and heart rate.
- Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT) – Analyzes how tired a person is during the day
- Maintenance of Wakefulness Test (MWT) – Measures how easy it is for a person to stay awake during daytime hours.
- Portable Monitor (PM) – This is a home-based study, like a less detailed PSG.
Positive Airway Pressure helps a person to breathe through respiratory ventilation. This basically works by “forcing” air both in and out of the airway, and this air is refreshed with every new breath the person takes.
There Are Three Parts to A CPAP Machine
- A mask that securely covers the face
- The tube that passes air from the machine to the person through the mask
- The machine itself, with a motor that pressurizes the air and blows it through the tube.
The masks used on these machines are either nasal pillow masks that have limited contact with the face, or full face masks, which cover the mouth and the nasal cavities.
Most CPAP machines are no bigger than a shoebox and newer models are becoming increasingly quiet, current models only have low noise levels.
These machines are most effective for treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), as they can prevent narrowing or blockage of a person’s airway during their sleeping hours. Snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnea, and this will usually be significantly reduced by use of a CPAP machine.
If you are prescribed a CPAP machine, it will require specific settings to treat your individual case. The requirements may be assessed by an overnight sleep study (PSG). There are several different CPAP machines available; your options will probably depend on the severity of your case. It is worth noting that CPAP machines are usually very expensive.
The benefits of using a CPAP:
- Less invasive than other procedures such as surgery
- Some people get positive results very quickly
- Improves sleep quality
- Decreases snoring significantly
- Relieves some of the symptoms associated with sleep apnea, such as daytime tiredness
- Prevents blockage of the airways
- Can decrease risk of high blood pressure and other long term side effects associated with sleep apnea, such as heart disease, strokes and diabetes.
- Improved concentration and alertness
- More emotional stability and less inclination of depression and anxiety
The disadvantages of using a CPAP:
- Irritated mouth, nose and eyes from the dry air that comes from some CPAP machines
- Nasal congestion from the dry air. This can cause a feeling of stuffiness and even nosebleeds. Irritation and nasal congestion can usually be significantly reduced if there is a heated or passive humidifier built into the CPAP.
- Claustrophobia – Some CPAP masks cover the whole face, and all of them must be securely strapped to the face to ensure there is a complete seal between the mask and the part of the face that it covers.
- Masks that do not fit correctly – Masks that do not fit the face well may be very uncomfortable. There are many different masks available.
- Headaches – From excessive air pressure or if the user has a cold or flu and parts of the airway become inflamed.
- Bloating – from excessive air pressure from the machine
- Noise – The noise may be distracting for people trying to get to sleep, but newer CPAP machines are much quieter than older ones.
- Interference from the tube – The tube may make it difficult to move around much during sleep.
Variable Positive Airway Pressure (VPAP) and Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure (BiPAP)
VPAP and BiPAP machines make breathing easier for users by having different settings (air pressures) for exhaling and inhaling. The air pressure is higher when the user inhales, and lower when they exhale, making exhalation easier. Due to the varied air pressure, many people find this type of sleep apnea machine easier to get used to. BiPAP machines can increase air pressure if the person is not breathing while they sleep. A significant advantage of these machines over CPAPs is that less energy needs to be exerted for exhalation, allowing a person using these to sleep deeper.
Sleep Apnea Machines May Help to Relieve the Symptoms.
In the right circumstances, machines for sleep apnea can help a person to be relieved of sleep apnea. There are a great deal of advantages and disadvantages to using sleep apnea machine. Some people with sleep apnea will not be able to use a CPAP, VPAP or BiPAP machine because they their case of sleep apnea may be too mild or too severe. Other treatments available include lifestyle changes, mouthpieces and surgery.