CPAP A-Z

What is CPAP?

1480269908_tick_mark_dark

CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) is a system that uses air pressure to help people with certain conditions such as sleep apnea, breathe at night.

CPAP is used to treat other conditions as well,  such as with infants whose lungs have failed to develop, but the focus of this article will be in using CPAP for sleep apnea.

I have written a very detailed guide to sleep apnea here but essentially sleep apnea is a condition that stops people breathing properly at night.

With CPAP, a continuous flow of air is pushed into the back of a person’s throat via a mask.

This air pressure helps to keep the airway open (at the back of the throat) which helps the person to breath properly.

The system has three elements to it

  1. A mask. There are several different types of masks but they tend to be worn around the nose or the nose and the mouth.
  2. A tube. That connects the mask to the ventilator.
  3. A ventilator. This is a small machine (about the size of a lunchbox) that has a pump in it that creates a flow of air.

Some of the numbers around sleep apnea and CPAP make for some very sad reading.

Of course, exact numbers are almost impossible to come by but approximately 18 million Americans have sleep apnea but it might be as high as 30 million Americans who are suffering from it.

Approximately only 1 in 4 people with the condition seek medical treatment for it.

In it’s severest form, sleep apnea is a killer with some experts believing that  “Untreated severe apnea can take 10 to 15 years off someone’s life”.

In its milder forms, sleep apnea could still cause many unpleasant complications such as; developing high blood pressure, an increased risk of having a stroke or heart attack and developing type 2 diabetes.

Added to the tragedy of those numbers, is the fact that even when people do seek treatment for sleep apnea and are prescribed CPAP and provided with all the equipment, a study in 2008 showed that 46%- 83% of people with a diagnosis of sleep apnea failed to use their CPAP equipment!

So, why is CPAP so unpopular?

Whilst there are a number of possible reasons for this, there is a lack of any real research into why so few people use their CPAP machines consistently.

Our bedrooms should be the most comfortable and relaxing room in the house and no matter how small or unobstrusive the CPAP equipment is, it is still highly intrusive and effects people on many levels.

  1. CPAP equipment interferes with intimacy.
  1. People complain that wearing a mask (despite the many designs that are available) makes them feel claustrophic.

2. The different types of masks can cause irritation or pain.

3. The masks can leak which can leave some people struggling to breath and other people with a jet of air irritating them.

4. The straps or headgear that hold the mask in position can cause irritation or pain or they can leave marks on people’s faces.

5. The hose or tube that connects the mask to the ventilator in many cases restricts people’s ability to sleep in their favourite position (on their side or on their stomachs.)

6. The hose can also restrict people’s ability to move in the night.

7. The ventilator, no matter how quiet, will make some sort of noise, which disturbs lots of users.

8. Some people are embarrassed about their need to use the equipment.

9. A user’s “bed partner” might be disturbed by the equipment or just not want their loved one wearing it.

10. CPAP equipment interferes massively with “intimacy”- touching, kissing, cuddling and sex.

There we go, 10 huge obstacles to using CPAP!

All of the different reasons described above mean that successfully using CPAP equipment takes a lot of hard work and dedication.

Trying to change a habit or behaviour is hard for anyone because it takes dedication and consistency and the ability to overcome challenges.

I think that trying to do this with a behaviour when you are in bed at night, is far more difficult because we have less dedication and resolve when we are in bed.

All we want to do is sleep!

I have looked at the reviews that people who have bought a wide range of CPAP masks have written and the biggest criticisms of these masks are; that people find them uncomfortable, that they leak air, they cause irritation and/ or pain or that the masks do not stay in place overnight.

Benefits of CPAP

The benefits of using CPAP can be found in reducing or eradicating the many complications and symptoms of having sleep apnea.

There are 7 main complications/ risks and they are;

  1. High blood pressure
  2. Having a heart attack or a stroke
  3. An irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)
  4. Type 2 diabetes
  5. Liver problems
  6. Car accidents
  7. Sleep deprived bed partner
  8. Excessive Daytime Sleepiness
  9. Inability to concentrate
  10. Irritability or short- temperedness

You can find out more about these complications by clicking here (link to Sleep Apnea article, complications section.)

Side Effects of CPAP

There is a huge list of side effects to using CPAP, which should not come as a huge surprise given that some of the side effects are included in my “10 reasons that CPAP is so unpopular” which can be found earlier in the article.

However, there are lots more. I am going to split these into three groups;

  1. General Side Effects
  2. Mask Side Effects
  3. Nasal Side Effects
  4. Pressure or airflow side effects.

General Side Effects

  1. People are embarrassed to wear the equipment
  2. Interferes with intimacy
  3. Restriction of sleep position
  4. Restriction of field of vision- watching TV, reading books, wearing glasses.
  5. Difficult to travel with
  6. Delayed sleep onset

Mask Side Effects

  1. Irritation or marks left on skin.
  2. Jaw pain relating to wearing a chin strap
  3. noise
  4. hose entanglement
  5. Bruxism

Nasal Issues

  1. Sneezing
  2. Runny nose
  3. nose bleeds
  4. Dry nostrils

Pressure issues

  1. Suffocation

Soreness around the nose or the mouth

 

soreness around nose or mouth

air swallowing

bloated stomach

Congestion, Runny Nose, Sneezing, Sinusitis, and Nosebleeds

flatulence

chest discomfort

delayed sleep onset

restriction of sleep position

Interfers with reading and TV watching

Agitated pets

Keratitis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Respironics Nuance Pro (November 2016)

Name of Mask
Type
Made By
Respironics Nuance Pro
Nasal Pillow Mask
Philips Respironics

nuance-mask

Product Features

*A gel frame for a non slip position throughout the night

*Gel pillows that are softer, provide a stronger seal and less irritation

*A simple design that is easy to use and fit

*Lightweight and flexible tubing for a great night’s sleep in any position

Buyer Feedback

confirmation-1152155_640  The Good
What are the cons of this product?  The Bad
*The sleep quality that people experienced was very good*Quite a number of users felt that the gel pads (on the side straps) sat too high on their cheeks.
*People felt that they could toss and turn in bed and the mask still functioned properly*One user felt that the gel pillows on one side were too rough.
*The mask did not leak, it had a very effective seal*Another user woke up in a sweat every morning.
*Users were happy that they could wear reading glasses and the mask at the same time.
*The gel pillows were comfortable and that they don't irritate nostrils.
*The mask was simple to disassemble and reassemble and clean
*The headgear is easy to adjust, comfortable and lightweight.
*It can be worn successfully by "side sleepers"
*It is very quiet
scales-1-edited The Bottom Line
*For the Respironics Nuance Pro, buyers are overwhelmingly happy with its performance.
* 5 times as many people left positive reviews than negative reviews for this mask.
*The number of people who believe that this mask is very comfortable is astounding

“In-Lab” Sleep Study- A Detailed Guide

Introduction

People with chronic sleeping disorders need to have their sleep assessed.

There are two basic locations that a sleep study can take place in. Either at home, where they are called Home Sleep Tests (HSTs) or in specialist settings, such as a sleep clinic or a hospital. These assessments are called in-lab sleep studies.

I have written a very detailed guide to HSTs that you can read here but in this article I want to focus on in lab studies.

Continue reading

Home Sleep Study- A Detailed Guide

Introduction

A home sleep study which is also called a Home Sleep Test (HST) is an assessment that takes place in your home at night whilst you are asleep.

An HST is only one form of sleep study that is available. Other sleep studies happen in specialist facilities called sleep labs. These tend to be labelled as an “in-lab sleep study”.

An HST is looking to diagnose or rule out only one type of sleeping disorder, which is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA.) I have written a detailed article about OSA which you can read here.

Continue reading

What is Snoring?

Definition

Snoring is the vibration of respiratory structures and the resulting sound due to obstructed air movement during breathing while sleeping. In some cases, the sound may be soft, but in most cases, it can be loud and unpleasant. (wiki)

Interestingly, the origins of the word are thought to date back to sometime in the mid fifteenth century and it is thought to have come from the word “snort”. (dictionary.com)

Snoring comes in three forms; occasional, habitual, serious/ obstructive.

Continue reading

Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD)- An Introduction

Definition

A Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD) is a dental appliance, similar to a gumshield which are used to cure mild to moderate sleep apnea and snoring.

I think that it is fair to say that most MADs are bought as an anti snoring device.

There is credible evidence to suggest that they can successfully treat mild forms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).

Snoring has a variety of causes and MADs tend to only work for people whose snoring is caused by a “vibrating tongue”.

Continue reading

The Snore Test- Why Do You Snore?

Introduction

There are four main causes of snoring for most people and they are mouth-breathing, nostril collapse, tongue base, and palatal flutter.

To check to see if your snoring is caused by either  your nostrils, mouth or tongue, there are some quick and easy tests for you to do at home.

There is no easy and specific test that can be done to see if your snoring could be caused by your soft palate but if all the other tests related to nostrils, mouth and tongue are negative then it is probable that your snoring is caused by your palate.

Continue reading

7 Deadly Sins?! Lifestyle Habits That Make You Snore (Maybe)

Introduction

A photo of a romantic lifestyle

I don’t suppose that it will surprise you that some habits in our lives might very well be contributing or causing us to snore.

I think that this is good and bad news for those of us who are looking to buy an anti snoring device.

It is good news because if it is one of these lifestyle that is causing you to snore then there may be an alternative to buying an anti snoring device.

Continue reading