Having Sleep Apnea can make sleeping difficult. People with the condition don’t sleep well or wake up constantly during sleep, which leaves them feeling tired and sleepy even with a full night’s sleep. However, Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Therapy (CPAP) can greatly enhance the quality of sleep and minimize the effects of Sleep Apnea and with prolonged usage even rid the patient of symptoms.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep Apnea is a serious medical condition where breathing patterns fluctuate, with breathing starting and stopping randomly during sleep. Snoring while sleeping and feeling tired even after a full nights’ sleep are some of the tell-tale signs of sleep apnea.
Sleep Apnea occurs in three types:
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea, where the throat muscles relax, this is the most common type of sleep apnea.
- Central Sleep Apnea is where the brain doesn’t send proper signals to the breathing muscles that control the breathing functionality.
- Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome is the type of sleep apnea where symptoms of both Obstructive and Central Sleep Apnea are present.
The doctor might determine a diagnosis after consulting someone who shares the bed with the patient. He may look at the patient’s sleep history by asking the patient to evaluate her quality of sleep over time, marking the times of waking up and sleeping.
The doctor may also ask the patient to go to a sleep center in order to get an accurate and complete diagnosis. The sleep center will evaluate the patient by installing different heart, brain activity and movement tracking sensors. This will offer comprehensive data on different denominators such as, heart rate, brain activity, sleep cycles, movements and times a person wakes up at night.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Therapy (CPAP)
The CPAP requires a device and its attachments that use continuous air pressure to make sure that the air passageways do not collapse while sleeping. This therapy is especially effective for patients with sleep apnea, increasing their sleep quality to a dramatic extent. The therapy is also used for premature infants whose lungs haven’t yet developed completely.
Components of CPAP device
The CPAP machine generates air pressure necessary to keep the airways open while the patient sleeps. The machine components are a small tank of water, which acts like a humidifier, a filter which cleans the air, a tube that connects the machine with the mask that covers the nose and mouth of the patient and a chin strap that helps keep the mask on the patient’s face.
The CPAP machine masks come in two varieties, one which covers the nose and the mouth, while the other variety, NCPAP (Nasal Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) is only attached to the nose. Ask your medical advisor to recommend the type that will suit your needs.
How long does it take for CPAP to work?
The answer to this question varies from person to person. Experts suggest that some people might start observing results right away, while others may start to notice improvement after a couple of weeks. In some cases, results are observed after several months of therapy. However the person sharing the bed with the affected person might observe the difference in the quality of sleep from day one.
If using CPAP is not helping the patient sleep better, it is advisable to seek medical advice immediately.
Another factor with the CPAP is that some people find the machine and the mask a little daunting. The anxiety associated with the experience can create stress, affecting the overall sleep quality and health of the patient. It is important that the patient understands that using the device is completely normal and is essential for the improvement of their medical condition, because CPAP therapy is considered to be by far the best option for the treatment of sleep apnea and the only way to ensure positive results and complete recovery is to use the therapy diligently and for as long as the doctor recommends.
Results have shown that the longer CPAP is used, the better the results.
Sleep apnea is a curable and manageable disorder and through continuous use of CPAP the quality of a person’s life can be drastically improved.