Devices like this can be a lifesaver. Literally. But there are many people who suffer from sleep apnea who don’t use them. In fact, they don’t use any device to help with their treatment. While looking into do CPAPs work we found that this should not be condoned, as there are many health implications that you are at higher risk of developing when you have Obstructive Sleep Apnea(OSA).
There is great belief that these machines have a hit-or-miss type of success rate in their treatment of OSA. But, in reality, there are a lot more factors involved. It is not quite so straight forward, as the machines can be tricky to set up and operate correctly. Many styles and types are available to suit individual needs and ergonomics.
Many users of the devices either don’t give them a chance to work or aren’t using them properly. They sometimes take some time to start feeling any benefits, but they also take some time adapting to. This compounds the fact that you may not be sure if you are using it correctly.
What Are They Supposed To Do?
They are designed to stop sufferers of Obstructive Sleep Apnea to stop having ‘episodes’ during their sleep. During these episodes the airway in the user collapses. There are many reasons for this, but it is an obstruction in the airway which causes restrictions to breathing. CPAP machines are designed to help by providing pressure in the airway to eliminate it collapsing.
While worn throughout sleep, the machine is set up to the pressure that is needed to help hold your airway open. This varies for each person and is usually determined through the help of a sleep center. This is where the devices get their name, Continuous Positive Airways Pressure. They provide continuous pressure to help hold the airway open, a lot like how a balloon works.
During sleep, the airway is being kept open by inflation. Not inflated like a balloon, though. Just enough of a slightly increased pressure to stop the airway collapsing. This then stops the fall in blood oxygen levels, which is what causes sufferers to continually be woken up.
How Are They Used?
CPAP machines are used during sleep. When you are sleeping, this is when you must have treatment. They have to be set up and put on before you go to sleep. You have the main pump unit which varies from portable travel sized units to large bedside devices. There is also various types of headgear which includes some form of a frame to hold one of the many types of masks available. Lastly, there is tubing to go between these items for the air to flow.
The headgear is normally the first thing to be put on first, after fitting the pipework. It is best practice to try to get your mask set up properly before turning your machine on. This is usually easier said than done as it takes some time getting used to getting the mask on correctly. Leaks are the worst enemy for these devices.
Once the headgear is on, then you can turn on your machine. Not all devices these days need this. Many have auto start and they can ramp up pressure to allow a more comfortable experience. After turning the machine on, usually a recheck of the mask is all that is required. Then they can be left on all night providing treatment while you sleep.
So, Do They Work?
These devices really do work. So many people have actually been able to get some of their lives back while using these devices. But most of them never had an easy time of it. They must be working correctly to get any benefit from them.
One of the most highly regarded forms of treatment for OSA is CPAP. The principles of how they work mean they do a good job of preventing the airways from collapsing. Other treatments are available for OSA, though this is the most recommended to work, while having less serious side effects.
Here is a list of some symptoms they can prevent:
- Daytime Fatigue
- Mood Swings
- Waking Up Gasping
- High Blood Pressure
If you are thinking that CPAP isn’t for you, why not look at some other treatments that are available for OSA.
Why So Many People Doubt They Work
While there are a few reasons for this, most can be contributed to one thing. Air leaks. These devices are so prone to any disturbances in airflow that they easily malfunction. Many devices turn off altogether when this happens. Even if they don’t turn off, as the airway doesn’t have sufficient pressure keeping it open, you have an episode and are woken up.
This is why there are so many types of mask available. So many shapes of face and so many sleeping positions. There is no way that one mask could ever fit all. But that is what can also let these devices down. Many users are totally lost by the sheer choice of available options. After trying two, maybe three different masks they eventually give up.
Another problem with these devices is the fact that some users don’t feel the benefit right away. A chronic lack of sleep that has built up over a long time needs a while to work itself off. It can take some users many weeks to feel any benefits. After many weeks trying to get a mask to seal, then a couple weeks with the device saying through its display that it is working correctly. When they still don’t feel any better, many sufferers give up. It never gets a chance to prove the benefits it can provide.
Is It Worth A Try?
Well, I would say that ‘if you are wondering will it help you’ then there is a good chance it will. These devices are proven to help users suffering from OSA. The health benefits are well worth the effort, never mind how much better you would feel if you had a good nights rest.
But, there is one thing. It may take some time to try to get these devices to work for you. Be aware there is some work involved so you don’t expect results straight away. It may take you some fine-tuning to get the benefits out of the devices and have them working correctly.
Masks are supposed to be changed frequently anyway, so if you find that it’s not quite working, try a different style of mask next time you replace it. Take a look at my article about CPAP masks if you want to find out more about them.
Doubt my reasoning for why it’s important for treatment? Take a look at what WebMD has to say about sleep apnea.
If you have experienced these machines or suffer from sleep apnea, why not post a quick reply to help others with their struggle. Or even if you have used them but found something else that works better let others know about it here. On that note, I wish you all a very good night!