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Who’s That Masked Man? Using Your CPAP Machine

Who’s That Masked Man? Using Your CPAP Machine

By Kevin Cleary

We all know that obstructive sleep apnea can lead to major health problems that include high blood pressure, heart problems, and an overall negative effect on our well-being. Those suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have an ongoing battle between breathing and sleeping every night. Guess who wins? Your breathing will always win out, usually at the cost of sleep which can lead to general tiredness for the sufferer, not to mention their bedtime partner. The best way to treat this problem is continuous positive airway pressure therapy or CPAP.

How Does a CPAP Machine Work?

At the risk of sounding trivial, breathing is quite important to us humans. That’s not really a groundbreaking statement or even a secret, but it is a true one. If you suffer from sleep apnea (or share a bed with someone who does) you understand the impact OSA has on your breathing as well as your night’s sleep. After being diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, there is a good chance you have been told to use a CPAP machine while you sleep. Your first question might be what on earth is a CPAP machine and how does it work? Basically, a CPAP machine consists of a machine that provides continuous pressure that is delivered through a hose to some type of a mask or nasal apparatus to keep the airway under pressure, therefore allowing you to breathe in an unobstructed manner.

 

CPAP Mask

The above image shows how a CPAP therapy system can help keep your airway open and allow oxygen to flow freely. Your CPAP machine increases the pressure in the back of the throat so that your airway does not collapse while you inhale, according to webmd.com. The wearing of a facial apparatus (nasal or full face mask) may take some getting used to, but compliance to this therapy is necessary to be effective.

 

The Heart of the System

At the center of any CPAP system is the air pump that generates constant pressure. It’s this generator that creates the prescribed pressure from a sleep physician, after an overnight sleep study, to increase pressure in the back of the throat. The Respironics REMstar Pro C-Flex plus Sleep Therapy System maintains a constant level of pressure throughout the breathing cycle. Not only is it durable and easy to connect to, but it features a heated humidifier for humidity control. The Respironics REM star Heated Humidifier plugs directly into the CPAP unit, which has the controls directly on it in order to make adjusting humidification level easier. For those that desire an adjustable CPAP machine, the Devilbiss IntelliPAP Auto Adjust CPAP System with SmartCode Inside allows the user to adjust the upper and lower pressure limits as well as an adjustable delay setting for up to four hours. It also automatically detects mask conditions and ultrasensitive snoring detection. Some patients require a higher pressure to maintain an open airway. For them the Devilbiss IntelliPAP Bilevel S CPAP System offers maximum adjustability. It has a large LCD screen which shows actual pressure, leak rate, and patient breathing parameters.

Choose Your Mask

Since each patient is different, the choice of a nasal apparatus or facemask is uniquely different for each and every case. What works for one person may not be comfortable for another and since therapy compliance is quite important, so is comfort. The largest complaint about CPAP therapy is the discomfort of wearing a breathing apparatus while you sleep. If you opt for a nasal mask, the Drive Extreme Comfort Nasal CPAP Mask with Headgear offers a 360° dual swivel elbow port and auto adjusting forehead support. A less cumbersome option of a nasal mask is the Respironics Wisp Nasal CPAP Mask. It has an open field of vision and offers a comfortable night’s sleep due to its soft and comfortable mask. Made of soft medical liquid silicone, the Rose Healthcare CPAP Nasal Mask with Headgear is flexible, comfortable, and easy to clean while offering the convenience of removal without resetting the headgear. If it’s uncomfortable to have part of the headgear or strap on your forehead, a nasal pillow system is an option. The Devilbiss Bravo CPAP Interface Nasal Pillow System has limited points of contact on the face and eliminates leaks around the eyes. Everybody is unique and so are our noses. For those with finer featured faces, the Fisher & Paykel FlexiFit 406 Petite Nasal Mask with Headgear is available. It’s fully assembled and ready to use right out-of-the-box!!

If a full face mask is what you require, then you may choose the Devilbiss V2 Full Face CPAP Mask. It offers a series of flanges around the base and is made from a thinner, softer, more comfortable silicon material. Some masks are available with quick disconnect attachments, such as the Drive Extreme Comfort Full Face CPAP Mask with Headgear. Its lightweight silicon design offers a 360° dual swivel elbow port for comfort while sleeping. To minimize the occurrence of leaks, the Fisher & Paykel FlexiFit 431 Full Face CPAP Mask automatically adjusts to a wide range of nasal and facial contours. Combining comfort and a great seal, the Invacare Twilight Full Face CPAP Mask uses breathable headgear as head support to increase comfort and reduce irritation. Patients who have facial hair, dentures, facial irregularities, or those suffering from claustrophobia may have a tough time finding a mask that is suited for them. The Respironics FitLife Total Full Face CPAP Mask with Headgear is designed with these patients in mind. It provides a great seal around the less pressure sensitive areas of the face and presents an un-obstructed view minimizing any claustrophobic feeling. There are many solutions available to patients today that will allow for greater compliance therefore making any CPAP therapy more effective.

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