CPAP? What On Earth Is That?

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If you have ever been around someone who is a chronic snorer, then you may have come into contact with a CPAP machine, or a continuous positive airway pressure machine. This is commonly used in clinical settings but more recently, you will find CPAP machines in the homes of those who suffer from various breathing and sleep related issues.

What Is CPAP?

A CPAP machine delivers continuous positive airway pressure so that a person is unable to stop breathing involuntarily. There are some sleep disorders as well as breathing disorders that can cause a person to cease breathing while sleeping. A CPAP machine forces continuous air into the lungs so that this does not occur.

The most common use of a CPAP machine is for obstructive sleep apnea, which most people simply know as excessive snoring. However, sleep apnea is a much more dangerous situation than basic snoring, and it is seen in people who cough while breathing or take very shallow breaths while sleeping. The CPAP machine ensures that they had continuous flow of air through their sleep.

How Is This Related To Snoring?

One of the reasons why CPAP machines are used for snoring is because those who snore often do so due to their tongue falling back and blocking the back of their throat. When this happens, they are unable to get continuous air while sleeping.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a more severe case of this condition, during which people will often stop breathing regularly and find themselves gasping for air throughout the night. This lack of continuous oxygen flow to the brain and organs can cause a variety of health problems, including death.

Generally speaking, CPAP machines are prescribed to people who have severe obstructive sleep apnea, which is usually first identified as someone who is an extremely bad snorer. These people may not know that they snore but are often videotaped by friends and family while sleeping, and shown just how bad their snoring is.

In other instances, people have a variety of health issues, including other sleep issues will undergo some type of sleep study and be diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea at that time.

How Much Does A CPAP Machine Costs?

According to the US department of Health and Human Services, a typical CPAP machine ranges from US$300 to US$2000 before insurance coverage. Therefore, if you have health insurance, you can save more money on your treatment.

Be sure to check with your insurance agent to see whether you can be covered for your treatment before purchasing the machine.

What Are The Long-Term Repercussions Of Using CPAP?

Even though this type of machine can be extremely beneficial and crucial to the health of many people, it is not the type of machine you will want to sleep with unless you absolutely have to.

A CPAP machine includes a mask that fits over your nose in your mouth which is connected via a tube to a rather loud motor that blows air through the tube. Obviously, people who have problems sleeping already usually do not need the extra noise of a motor in their bedroom, but that is how these products work.

Sleeping in the same room as someone who is using a CPAP machine is almost impossible because of the amount of noise that it makes, so this is certainly not something that is conducive to building a strong relationship with your spouse.

What Treatments Are Available?

Even though CPAP machines are now fairly commonplace, it is always a much better idea to try and find another solution if you can to your sleeping problem.

Most sleep experts will tell you that if you have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, then you can make changes to your lifestyle that will help reduce some of the symptoms. These changes include losing weight, stopping smoking, and removing both alcohol and caffeine from your diet.

Another treatment that will make a CPAP machine less necessary for you will be to make changes to your sleep schedule so that you go to sleep every night at the same time without any type of sleep medications.

Ideally, you should sleep on your side rather than your back, which will help reduce the propensity to snore. Finally, if you have high blood pressure, taking steps to reduce your blood pressure will usually help reduce the signs of snoring and sleep apnea in general.

Is There Anything You Should Know?

One more thing to keep in mind about a CPAP machine is the fact that because this is a device that is connected to your face, it is prone to developing bacteria and fungus. Therefore, the mask and the tube need to be cleaned and replaced on a regular basis, which can get quite expensive.

If you are wearing a CPAP machine, the device should never be shared with another person, and if it causes you any issues such as a rash, you may want to try out another make or model.

Published on 7 July 2013

Last Updated 27 Feb 2015

Useful References

1. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (Accessed 7 July 2013)

2. WedMD (Accessed 7 July 2013)

3. Mayoclinic (Accessed 7 July 2013)

4. Sleep Foundation (Accessed 7 July 2013)

5. Treating Sleep Apnea: A Review of the Research for Adults - Consumer Summary | AHRQ Effective Health Care Program (Accessed 27 Feb 2015)

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