What is CPAP? Everything you need to know
CPAP — or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure — is a type of therapy that applies mild air pressure to a person’s upper airway to keep their airway open so that they can breathe normally while they sleep. CPAP can be used to treat breathing problems such as obstructive sleep apnea and chronic snoring.1
How does CPAP work?
CPAP uses an air pump and mask to deliver mild air pressure to the upper airway of a person while they sleep. The air pressure can be constant or variable depending on the type of machine. For example - fixed pressure machines, generally referred to as CPAP machines, deliver a constant air pressure while the person is sleeping. Automatic, or Auto-Titrating Positive Airway Pressure (APAP) machines, have an in-built algorithm that delivers a variable air pressure according to the person’s needs.1
The CPAP pump takes in room air and pressurises it and then transports the pressurised air through a tube and mask and delivers it via the nose or nose and mouth into the upper airway (throat). The pressurized air prevents the upper airway from collapsing, allowing the person to breathe normally while they sleep.
What are the CPAP Components?
CPAP relies on two main parts: the pump and the mask.
CPAP masks come in all shapes and sizes. There are typically four types of sleep apnea masks: nasal pillows, nasal masks, full-face masks, and oral masks. Each mask fits slightly differently. In consultation with a EdenSleep specialist, you select the mask type that fits best and you find most comfortable. Finding a mask that suits you while you are asleep is essential to successful CPAP therapy, so make sure you try on a CPAP mask while you are lying down. If you’d like to book an appointment to find the right mask for you, simply get in contact with us to arrange a time that suits you.
As mentioned earlier, there are two types of CPAP pumps: fixed pressure and automatic pressure. Fixed pressure pumps apply continuous pressure that has been pre-set to suit your specific requirements.
Automatic pressure pumps monitor airflow and continuously adjust air pressure based on your changing needs throughout the night. These kinds of pumps are most useful for patients whose positive airway pressure requirements vary during sleep. We can help you decide which is best for you.
CPAP was invented by Professor Colin Sullivan in 1981 while he was a Senior Lecturer in Medicine at the University of Sydney and Honorary Physician at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. Continuous positive airway pressure has since become the treatment of choice for patients with obstructive sleep apnea.
How long does CPAP take to work?
Everyone’s experience with CPAP is different. If a person is receiving the correct pressure to maintain their upper airway, their obstructive sleep apnea and snoring will be treated immediately. How long a person takes to feel the positive benefits of CPAP during the day may vary. Some users report positive results after a single night of therapy. Other users find that it takes a little time to adjust to the new therapy before they feel benefits during the day. It can also take people (and their partners!) a while to come to terms with using the mask and machine every night.
Are there any side effects?
The non-invasive nature of CPAP makes it a safe form of treatment for obstructive sleep apnea.1 The extra flow of air may lead to drying of the nose and throat, a runny nose, a stuffy nose or sneezing but these can be addressed with humidifiers and chinstraps.
If you’re considering CPAP as a treatment option for your sleep apnea, contact us for a free consultation, or sign up for a CPAP Trial below.