First Thing’s First, What is CPAP Therapy?
CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. This form of therapy is used for people with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA is a condition in which a person’s breathing is repeatedly stopped and started during sleep.
This type of apnea occurs when your throat muscles occasionally relax and block the airway during sleep. A noticeable sign of obstructive sleep apnea is snoring. When the storing abrupting stops and the person exits deep sleep, this is a sign that OSA has interfered with their sleep cycle.
What Does a CPAP Machine Do?
Sleep apnea sufferers have problems with keeping the airway open for regular breathing as they sleep. The tissue in the throat relaxes or collapses, closing off the space needed for air to move into the lungs. This leads to pauses in breathing that can happen consistently enough to deprive the bloodstream of the oxygen.
When the brain senses this blood oxygen deprivation, it forces the individual awake. Some sleep apnea sufferers can experience more than 100 of these awakenings an hour. This leads to a very light sleep cycle, and very little restorative sleep. If left untreated, the sleep deprivation can lead to other issues like depression, weak immunity, and chronic diseases.
The CPAP machine uses a tube and mask to deliver pressurized air to help prevent the collapses that are characteristic of obstructive sleep apnea. The machine assists with keeping the airway firm and open. As a result, the sleeper can enter deep, restorative stages of rest without being abruptly awoken.
Benefits of CPAP Therapy
At first it can be difficult adjusting to the CPAP machine and sleeping with a mask. The process gets easier with time and users often comment on how rejuvenated they feel after sleeping through an entire night without being jolted awake by their own breathing. A few benefits of CPAP therapy include:
- Feel alert, energized, and refreshed during the day
- Concentrate on tasks, make decisions clearly, improve memory
- Emotional stability and improved mood
- Reduce or eliminate snoring
- Reduce chance of developing chronic diseases or heart problems
How to Choose the Right CPAP Mask
It’s essential that you are properly fitted for a CPAP mask to ensure it is working effectively throughout the night.
Nasal Pillow Mask
A nasal mask is designed for people who breathe with their mouth closed in the night. The mask is smaller in size and only conceals the nostrils. Allergy sufferers, users with claustrophobia, patients with mustaches and beards, or those with a narrow nose bridge and shorter faces normally prefer nasal pillows to a mask because the pillows do not rest directly on the above mentioned areas.
Traditional Nasal Mask
This nasal mask is the most popular and easiest to use. It’s a triangular shaped mask that rests gently over the nose. The mask can deliver high pressures from the CPAP machine without causing the user to feel overly restricted or claustrophobic.
Measuring for a Nasal Mask
Measure your actual nose size from top to bottom and side to side.
Petite: 1.5" tall, 1.5" wide
Small: 1.75" tall, 1.5" wide
Medium-Small: 2" tall, 1.5" wide
Medium Wide: 1.75" tall, 2" wide
Medium: 2" tall, 1.75" wide
Large: 2.25" tall, 2" wide
Large Narrow: 2.5" tall, 1.5" wide
Shallow: 2" tall, 1.75" wide, 1.25" deep or less
Standard: 1.75" to 2" tall, 1.75" wide
Full Face Mask
The full face mask is the only CPAP mask that delivers pressure to the mouth. This mask is the most bulky option and can make it difficult to sleep on your stomach. People who sleep with their mouth open require this mask to fully feel the benefits of CPAP therapy. It can require more tweaking when choosing a size.
Measuring for a Full Face Mask
Measure straight down from the middle of your pupil to just below the lower lip. It may help to imagine a horizontal line extended from your lower lip to beneath your eye, so that you can measure straight down from your pupil.
2. Make sure top fits at bridge of nose, and bottom covers mouth completely.
Small: 3.25" tall, 2.75" wide
Medium: 3.5" tall, 3.25" wide
Large: 4.25" tall, 3.25" wide
How to Get a CPAP Machine
To get a CPAP machine you can visit a sleep lab and receive a prescription based on their diagnosis. The machine and mask often come separately and the CPAP machines have different settings you can choose from based on your needs.
The machine is essentially a box with a little fan that draws air from the room, pressurizes it, and delivers it to the user. The machines also come equipped with an air filter that filters out impurities. Some machines have a humidity setting. The humidification delivers warm, moist air to the nostrils. This setting is ideal for individuals living in dry climates and can ease inflammation while soothing the nasal passageways.
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