CPAP Therapy For Obstructive Sleep Apnea: What Is It?

November 22, 2019

CPAP Therapy For Obstructive Sleep Apnea: What Is It?

Approximately 5.4 million Canadians have been diagnosed with sleep apnea or are at high risk of suffering from OSA. For these individuals, CPAP therapy is the first line form of treatment. 


What Is CPAP Therapy? 

Continuous positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP therapy), is a treatment method created by Dr. Colin Sullivan in the early 1980s. This therapy alleviates obstructed air passageways most commonly found in patients with mild, moderate or severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).


This form of therapy, OSA patients use a CPAP machine. This includes the use of a mask that often covers both the nose and mouth while you sleep. The mask is then attached to the CPAP machine by a tube.


CPAP is often used as an umbrella term for a number of positive airway pressure (PAP) devices including APAP and BiPAP. It has proven to be very successful for OSA patients. Many patients see positive results in the first few weeks after starting CPAP treatment.  


How Exactly Do CPAP Devices Work? 

CPAP devices work by delivering a constant flow of positive air pressure from the CPAP machine, through the sleep apnea mask and directly to the patient’s airway. In an OSA patient, the main cause of sleep disruption is due to their airway passage narrowing or collapsing while they sleep. 


By delivering air into the mouth via CPAP equipment, it subtly increases airflow in the throat, keeping the airway open. 


What Are The Steps To Getting Started With CPAP Treatment? 

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Diagnosis

Sleep disruption can happen for many different reasons. To know for certain that CPAP therapy is right for you, you first need to be diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. 

Many OSA patients often go to their GP before getting referred to a sleep specialist or sleep clinic for further evaluation. A polysomnography sleep test is one evaluation method a sleep specialist will use. This test electronically records specific physical activities while you sleep.

Once obstructive sleep apnea is diagnosed, the OSA specialist will carry out further tests to determine the severity of the diagnosis. This will determine the level of air pressure needed as part of CPAP treatment. 


Finding The Right CPAP Equipment 

CPAP masks come in multiple styles and depending on various factors, you may find one style suits you better than others. 

For example, the position in which you sleep or whether you have facial hair will affect which style of CPAP mask you should wear. Here are some tips to help you find the right CPAP equipment for you. 


If You Are A Side Sleeper

If your automatic sleeping position is curling up on your side, you’ll need a mask with a minimal design so it will not be obstructed by your pillow. Any obstruction will compromise the compliance of CPAP therapy. 

We advise side sleepers to go for a nasal cushion style of CPAP mask. Many side sleeping OSA patients found success with masks such as the Airfit P10 by Resmed, or the Airfit F30. You can read our review here


If You Are A Stomach Sleeper

Stomach sleeper a better way to describe you? Your options for CPAP masks are a little more limited but still great overall. 

Sleeping on your stomach is a tricker position for CPAP therapy but not impossible. You’ll just have to accommodate. You will need to go for a mask that has a tube that connects over the head rather than to the front of the face. 

Dreamwear is a line of CPAP masks from Philips Respironics that is ground-breaking for stomach sleepers. Consider looking at either the Dreamwear Nasal CPAP Mask or the Dreamwear Full Face Mask


If You Are A Back Sleeper

If you sleep on your back all night long, you are an OSA specialist’s dream come true. With minimal movement, you can choose from most styles of CPAP masks. 

Depending on your needs and the amount of tossing while sleeping, a full face mask can be a great choice as a back sleeper. This will give you the comfort that you need while also ensuring you receive the full benefits of CPAP therapy. 

Again, the Airfit F30 Full Face Mask is an excellent choice. It’s improved design means comfy straps to make sleeping easy. It also prevents waking up to any mask indentations, or “sleep lines” on your face the next morning.  


If You Have Facial Hair

A nasal pillow mask’s discreet design is great for men with beards or moustaches. This is because the bulk of the mask is located at the nasal area and away from your facial hair. Meaning you can sleep more easily in any position. 

Both the AirFit P30i and the AirFit P10 are worthy contenders to choose from.  


But What About A CPAP Machine? 

Choosing a mask is only half the battle. Next, you’ll need to purchase a CPAP machine. As a newbie to CPAP therapy, the DreamStation Auto is a great option for easing into treatment. It’s easy to use and its smart technology makes adjustments to air pressure levels as you sleep.  


Practice Before Using It At Night

You will need time to get used to wearing your new equipment. Start off by taking some time each day to wear the mask and get a feel for how it sits on your face. That way it should feel less cumbersome when you put it on at night. 

 

Signs That CPAP Therapy Is Working For You

How do you know if CPAP therapy is actually working for you? One of the most obvious signs that your sleep quality is improving is you wake up feeling more rested. It’s that simple. And really, that’s the whole goal of this type of therapy. 

Other telltale signs include: 

  • Concentration levels improve
  • No headaches in the morning 
  • Less waking during the night
  • Reduced snoring (Partners really enjoy this one!) 

 

Why CPAP Therapy Is The Gold Standard For Treating OSA

CPAP therapy has become known as the gold standard for treating obstructive sleep apnea. For many years, this form of sleep therapy has dramatically improved the symptoms of sleep disruption. It also has given patients back quality of life.

Although CPAP therapy has its own challenges, many patients feel they can rely on CPAP equipment to improve their quality of sleep rather than having to opt for invasive surgeries. With the correct use and regular maintenance of CPAP devices and masks, it could be the golden treatment for you too. 

Suffer from interrupted sleep but not sure of the cause? Here are some clues that you might have OSA







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