You may have heard a lot about CPAP and its capabilities as a treatment for sleep apnea, but many are curious as to what exactly a CPAP machine is and how it works. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with sleep apnea and are exploring CPAP as a treatment, this article will be particularly helpful to you. In it, we’ll outline everything you need to know about a CPAP machine.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Before we can understand what a CPAP machine is and how it works, we need to understand what it is used for, and that is sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles that support the soft palate temporarily relax, causing airways to narrow or become completely closed. This obstruction of the airway means that sufferers are unable to get enough air, and the oxygen levels in the blood drop. This prompts the body to awaken them from sleep in order to reopen the airways, causing snorting, choking, or gasping. This pattern can repeat itself throughout the night, preventing sufferers from achieving deep, restful sleep.
Left untreated, sleep apnea can cause a number of adverse health impacts, including high blood pressure (Because sleep apnea results in sudden drops in blood oxygen levels, blood pressure increases, straining the cardiovascular system).
What Is a CPAP Machine?
CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. A CPAP machine is a small box that sits on your nightstand and plugs into a power outlet. It attaches via a hose to a mask that you wear while you sleep. The mask can cover your nose and mouth, or just your nose. The entire unit—the box on the nightstand, the hose, and the mask on your face, is referred to as the CPAP machine. CPAP machines are an extremely effective treatment for sleep apnea.
How Does It Work?
Inside the box part of the CPAP machine that sits on your nightstand is a motorized fan. This fan draws air from the room, gently pressurizes it, and delivers it through the lightweight hose and into the mask. The flow of pressurized air from the CPAP machine works to create a cushion along your airway, preventing the throat from collapsing. This keeps the uvula, soft palate and tongue from obscuring the airway.
Each CPAP machine contains a filter to ensure irritants such as dust or smoke are not passed unto the user. They also include a humidification chamber to help ensure that warm moist air is being pumped into airway passages (this helps to prevent swelling and discomfort in the nasal passages).
Getting Started with a CPAP Machine
If you are considering getting and using a CPAP machine, keep in mind:
- There Is a Short Adjustment Period: If you are new to wearing a CPAP machine, it’s important to expect that wearing a CPAP mask may feel awkward or uncomfortable at first. It’s important to give yourself time to adjust and get used to using your new CPAP machine. Your medical equipment specialist can help you explore different mask styles so that you can find a comfortable fit.
- Your Machine Will Require Some Cleaning: As far as maintenance is concerned, your CPAP machine is very straightforward, simply requiring regular filter replacement and cleaning of the humidity box and mask.
- The More You Wear Your CPAP, the Better. Regularly using your CPAP machine works to not only give you consistent restful sleep, but it also helps to prevent (or treat chronic conditions that can arise as a result of sleep apnea).
Providing CPAP Machines in Jacksonville, FL
If you are suffering from sleep apnea, it’s important to realize that CPAP is an effective option for treatment. At Jacksonville Sleep Center, we want our patients to know that there is hope for attaining restful sleep again. We specialize in helping patients in Jacksonville, FL, get the sleep they need by offering the latest options for sleep disorder diagnosis, assessment, and treatment of sleep apnea. If you suspect you have sleep apnea and are interested in learning more about what a CPAP machine is and how it works, our physicians and team of specialists would love to help. Contact us today to learn more and set up an appointment!