CPAP Therapy

What is CPAP?

CPAP & Mask CPAP (pronounced "see-pap") stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, and is currently the most popular and effective way to treat sleep apnea.  The airway collapse that is associated with sleep apnea occurs following exhalation when the patient begins to draw the next breath.  This creates a vacuum in the airway as the diaphragm muscle tries to pull the air into the lungs.  CPAP prevents this vacuum by providing pressurized air to pneumatically splint the airway open.  For people suffering from sleep apnea, CPAP provides immediate relief.

Although the idea behind CPAP is simple, the application requires study and expertise.  CPAP devices must be prescribed by a physician with very specific settings.  These settings are determined using a sleep study called a CPAP Titration.  Once optimal therapeutic CPAP settings are determined, the device can be used at home to provide ongoing relief from snoring and sleep apnea.

The Gold Standard

The first CPAP device was developed in 1981 by Professor Colin Sullivan at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, Australia.  As technology has advanced, CPAP devices have steadily improved to be smaller, quieter, and more comfortable than ever before.  Options also are available to make CPAP a better experience, including different types of devices, interface options ("masks"), humidifiers, and more.

Features and Types of Devices

CPAP devices can vary greatly between different models and manufacturers.  Here are some features that modern CPAP devices may offer:

  • EPR - Exhalation Pressure Relief makes it easier to exhale against CPAP pressure
  • Ramp - timer to control how quickly CPAP reaches prescribed pressure
  • Humidity - heated humidification (see below)
  • Data - records usage data for doctors, insurance or professional license
  • Modem - cellular or wifi modem allows remote assistance, monitoring, and adjustment
  • Battery - DC power option to run CPAP from a vehicle or battery
  • Travel Case - protects the CPAP and accessories while travelling
  • Reminders - can be set to remind patients when to change filters or replace masks

Additionally, some patients may need a different type of device, such as a BiPAP or APAP.  These devices are similar to CPAP, but have some unique applications.  BiPAP (BiLevel Positive Airway Pressure) devices have a separate pressure for inhalation and exhalation.  APAP (Automatic Positive Airway Pressure) devices vary pressure based on complex algorithms, recording data for later analysis.

Masks

The mask is the portion of the CPAP apparatus that touches the patient.  There are a variety of masks available, and picking the right mask is a big part of making CPAP use comfortable.  A qualified technologist will recommend a mask for you to try based on your therapeutic needs and the features of your face.  There are 3 general types or categories of masks:

  • Nasal Mask - soft cushion which fits over the nose
  • Nasal Pillows - soft cushions which fit to each nostril
  • Full-face Mask - soft cushion which fits over the nose and mouth

Humidifiers

Humidifiers have become standard issue for most CPAP users.  When using CPAP, the increased airflow can often cause dryness in the nasal passages, throat, and mouth.  CPAP humidifiers are used to add humidity to the air after it has been pressurized.  A heated humidifier increases the amount of humidity by warming the water used.  An integrated humidifier is one that is part of (or snaps on to) the CPAP device so as to be (or appear to be) a single device.  Heated tubing can be added between the humidifier and the patient to ensure moisture from the humidifier is not lost on the way to the patient.

Our technologists are experts at helping you find the right combination of gear to get the best CPAP experience possible.  Give us a call to see how we can help you.

 


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