What is CPAP Therapy?
CPAP - is the abbreviation for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure therapy. This is a treatment method for patients who have sleep apnea. CPAP machines use mild air pressure to keep the airway open and prevent pauses in breathing and snoring. They are used by patients who have been diagnosed with SDB. CPAP therapy involves a mask that covers your nose, or your nose and mouth, A tube connects the mask to the CPAP machine and a motor blows air into the tube.
There are different makes and models of CPAP machines but they all fall into two categories.
AutoCPAP (Also known as Auto-titration). Automatic CPAP will vary the pressure according to what you need. It does this by sensing the airflow through your airway. If the airflow decreases due to partial or complete obstruction, the machine will increase the pressure to keep the airway open. The pressure decreases again when the airway reopens.
Fixed Pressure CPAP is set for your specific pressure. This pressure is determined by either sleeping overnight in a Sleep Laboratory, or by using AutoCPAP in the first week or so of therapy. The Ideal Sleep therapist will examine the data and determine which single pressure throughout the night will work best for you.
AutoCPAP does not offer better therapy, but can provide more comfortable therapy for those that have varying and high pressure requirements throughout the night.
When to use CPAP?
In order to receive the full benefits of this therapy your CPAP machine must be used whenever you sleep, including naps. Most sleep physicians recommend at least 4 hours on a nightly basis, but preferably the entire night. If you wake up and the mask is off, make sure to put it back on before going back to sleep.
“I don’t think I can get used to wearing a mask every night”...
Many are initially resistant to the idea of wearing a CPAP mask every night. The first two weeks are the most important and we give our patients strategies to adjust to the mask little by little. We are in contact with our patients very frequently during this period and longer if necessary. Most people with SDB feel the negative consequence of the disorder. Many will feel better than they have in years once they adapt to therapy. The benefits to your health and the way you feel encourages one to stick with the therapy.
“What if I’m having problems falling asleep with the mask on”?
You may initially struggle with the mask on your face or the pressure of the air blowing into your nose. Do not allow yourself to become frustrated. It’s very important to put your mask on every night, but if you are unable to fall asleep in a reasonable time it’s okay to take it off and try again the next night. Please be persistent and try to be aware of the many benefits. We have strategies to help our patients with the common problems that may initially arise while adapting to therapy. Never hesitate to call us for help.
Benefits of CPAP therapy.
If you have been prescribed CPAP therapy there are important reasons why you need this treatment. Most people will experience far less daytime sleepiness and an increased energy level. Some may feel this improvement in a matter of days, but for many, these effects may not be immediate. Don’t worry or be concerned if you do not experience this right away. At times the symptom improvement may occur over several weeks. It is important to remember that not only are you likely to feel better, but this is lowering your risk of serious medical issues that may occur with those that have untreated SDB. This can include high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, mood disorders, and heart problems or stroke. Using CPAP nightly keeps you healthier.
Will I need to use this forever?
It will probably be for the rest of your life. It is true that some people who lose significant amounts of weight may reduce or eliminate the need for CPAP therapy, but not all people suffering from sleep apnea are overweight. Also, the disorder tends to get worse as we age. We lose muscle tone as we get older and this includes the dilator muscles in the tongue. Currently CPAP is the only therapy guaranteed to work. For many with significant daytime sleepiness, it is a life changing experience.
Does my health Insurance pay for the machine and mask?
Most health insurance companies will help to pay for your CPAP therapy. We can help you prepare the proper documentation for your EHB. We may be able to bill them directly.