When a person receives a diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea, they may be a bit confused and somewhat apprehensive about treatment.
The machine that is designed to treat OSA (obstructive sleep apnea) is called a CPAP unit or a Bilevel unit. The acronym CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. What that means is that when you are using a CPAP you are getting constant pressure into your airway whether you are inhaling or exhaling.
Exhaling against the incoming pressure makes it somewhat difficult for some people to adapt to the therapy. But with persistence and diligence, the person using the CPAP device will reap the benefits of better health, better sleep, and no more snoring! CPAP machines on the market today are quieter than their predecessors.
Most have data storage capabilities via an SD card or wireless Bluetooth modems. Those that have built-in wireless modems have phone/computer apps available to monitor the usage and efficacy of the treatment.
There are a couple of different kinds of CPAPs available. Standard CPAP units are only capable of programming one pressure into the clinical menu. A pressure of anywhere between 5cm H2o to 20cm H2o can be programmed in. Auto CPAP units are unique in that the pressures can be set as a “range.” In other words, the pressure can be set to fluctuate between 5cm H2o and 20cm H2o or whatever the doctor feels are pressure limits that will be appropriate to cover all apneas that may occur during sleep.
The majority of clients who have been prescribed CPAP are using it in auto mode. Auto CPAP mode is more appropriate for the client and mimics their lifestyle as well as adjusts for position changes or changes in airway integrity.
Humidification is an important factor when selecting a CPAP unit. Most units available on the market today will have a built-in heated humidifier. Using the pap device with humidity will increase compliance and reduce sinus issues. One of the side effects of using nasal CPAP is drying the sinuses or throat. On-board humidification is the remedy to that problem.
Most CPAPs on the market are ready to use in any country in the world. They are equipped to accommodate both 120 and 240 volts. They are very easy to travel with and are considered a medical device and are a free carry-on when flying.
Although most CPAP devices are designed to be workhorses and come with a good warranty, some new information that I have received is that the warranty on some PAP units will be voided if you use an ozone cleaner with it. Be sure to check the warranty information on any CPAP device you purchase and what conditions may nullify the warranty.
Portable CPAP device are available. They are very small, normally do not come with a water-based humidifier, and are a bit more expensive than a standard tabletop unit. Portable devices are not designed to be used 365 days a year. They are designed for travel or short-term usage. Some have data storage capabilities and some do not. Make sure when selecting a portable unit, you understand its limitations.
Bilevel devices are similar to CPAP devices only they use two pressures. One pressure, which is higher, on inspiration, and a different lower pressure on exhalation. They are used for clients who have higher pressure needs than a CPAP can accommodate. They also make some patients who struggle with CPAP more comfortable by allowing the higher inspiratory pressure which boosts the patient's volume and because of this boost a lower pressure is needed on exhalation.
Also, bilevel devices are used for different disease states other than obstructive sleep apnea.
A CPAP or bilevel device requires a prescription to dispense here in the USA. The prescription will have the appropriate pressures that need to be set on it. The type of device you choose should accommodate that prescription and give you some of the many features and benefits you deserve, like Bluetooth data storage and heated humidification. HPFY carries a selection of PAP devices and supplies, along with many other respiratory supplies for the treatment of sleep apnea.
Author Profile: Laura Castricone, Respiratory Therapist
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