For some people snoring is an occasional nuisance. For others, it can be a daily problem. Occasional snoring can be due to a blocked nose or tiredness. If you are snoring daily, it can have a deeper reason. It can be an indication of sleep apnea or some other problem.
Snoring is not just a sound that you make while sleeping; it impacts your overall health. Over the years, sleep medicine has taught us that snoring comprises the quality of sleep and health in general. In Australia, up to 25 percent of the adult population snores.
What This Article Is All About?
Do not compromise the quality of your sleep. Proper and peaceful sleep is vital for rejuvenating your mind and body. You can easily kick snoring to the curb with various anti-snoring devices. But in this article, we are going to focus on CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure).
Use of CPAP – What Is the Rationale?
CPAP is a machine that keeps your airways patent. You can have blocked airways due to various reasons like loss of tone of the muscles of the throat, excessive soft tissue, sleep apnea, or other respiratory conditions.
CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. It means this machine continuously applies positive pressure to your airway to keep it patent. It helps you to breathe easier while sleeping and aids in stopping snoring.
CPAP applies pressure above atmospheric level to your upper airway to keep it from collapsing. This machine has various pressure settings. You can use it alone to manage your snoring problem and sleep apnea. It can be used along with other ventilation devices to manage patients with cardiovascular or respiratory conditions.
How Does CPAP Work?
Most CPAP machines have three parts: the frame (motor), tubing, and headgear. We will have a look at these parts one by one.
The motor may have some accessories attached to it, like air filters and a humidifier water tub. The function of the motor is to generate positive air pressure. It has a power cord inlet at one end and a tubing outlet on the other.
The tubing is made of durable plastic. It functions to transfer the positive air pressure to the mask.
The face mask is the most prominent part of the CPAP machine. These masks have various sizes and types.
- The full mask: This type covers the nose and mouth both.
- The nasal mask: It fits over your nose only.
- The Nasal Pillow: It is very light-weight and minimal as compared to a nasal mask
Choosing the right size and type of CPAP mask can make a huge difference in your compliance and ease of use. If your mask is uncomfortable, it reduces your willingness to continue with CPAP.
Below are the steps that you need to follow to step up your CPAP machine:
- Start by setting up your CPAP filter. Put it in the air filter slot on the frame or motor of the CPAP machine.
- The next step is attaching the tubing to the motor and the mask.
- Now choose a comfortable CPAP mask that fits you just right.
- Adjust your CPAP pressure setting. It is advised to start from the lowest pressure and build up from there.
- Most of the modern CPAP machines have a humidifying water tub built into the frame. It helps moisten the pressurized air delivered to your airway. It helps prevent nasal and mouth dryness and prevents nasal congestion. To set up the humidifier, you need to fill the chamber to the marked line with distilled water.
- Place the motor or the frame on a stable surface and the vents should have a 12-inch distance from any surrounding surface (table, bed, wall, or curtain).
- Plugin your CPAP machine and turn it on. Please try to avoid extension cords.
Your machine will come with a manual on how to set it up. You can also watch videos on Youtube on how to set up a CPAP correctly.
How to Clean Your CPAP Machine?
Hygiene is a must when it comes to your CPAP machine. Keeping it clean will help prevent bacterial buildup and skin irritation. Below are some easy steps to clean your CPAP machine:
- Wipe down the mask with disinfecting wipes.
- Run soaping water or vinegar through the tubing and rinse. Let the pipe drip dry.
- Change the filter after the recommended time.
- All components should be wiped and dried regularly.
Types of CPAP
Most people believe that all CPAP machines are the same and work the same. It is a common misconception. There are three basic types of CPAP machines:
- Fixed CPAP machine: It maintains a pre-set level of air pressure throughout the night.
- Automatic CPAP machine: This machine flexibly adjusts the level of air pressure by sensing body conditions. For example, it lowers the pressure if you are breathing easily on any particular night. Or it increases the air pressure if you are experiencing nasal congestion or difficulty breathing due to any other reason.
- BiPAP: These machines offer two different pressure levels: a higher IPAP (Inspiratory Positive Airway Pressure) and a lower EPAP (Expiratory Positive Airway Pressure).
What Are the Pros of a CPAP Machine?
CPAP is a machine that helps to keep your airway patent and avoid its collapse while you are asleep. Consequently, it also helps eliminate the snoring problem. There are various other devices available in the market that can help you to stop snoring. Some of these devices are portable and others, like CPAP, are hard to move. In this section, we will have a look at how CPAP is superior to other anti-snoring devices:
- It is FDA approved.
- It works better at keeping your airway patent.
- Helps to eliminate snoring
- Helps lower blood pressure
- Lowers day time sleepiness
- Lowers risk of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular events
- May also help reduce glucose and cholesterol levels
- Better quality of sleep means better alertness and concentration
Cons of Using CPAP Machine:
CPAP is an amazing machine that can help resolve your snoring and breathing problem. Besides all the benefits, it also has a few cons:
- Irritation of the facial skin around the mask
- Dry nose and mouth
- Nasal congestion or running nose
- Abdominal bloating
- Excessive dreaming during the early use of the CPAP machine
- Claustrophobia under the CPAP mask
What Are the Prerequisites and Indications for CPAP?
A person’s airway can collapse due to various reasons. CPAP keeps the airway patent. Narrowing of the airway causes turbulent airflow through the air passageway which, in turn, leads to snoring. Airway collapse is common in adults and children suffering from obstructive sleep apnea.
Remember that CPAP is a technical machine and you should consult your physician before using it.
The pre-requisites for using CPAP include:
- The person should have spontaneous breathing
- Has the ability to keep his or her airway patent
- Has systolic pressure less than 90 mmHg.
- Can wear the CPAP mask
Following are a few indications for the use of CPAP:
- People suffering from obstructive sleep apnea
- Airway closure disease (Bronchiolitis)
- Weaning from mechanical ventilation
- Diaphragmatic paralysis
What Are the Contraindications of CPAP?
CPAP cannot be used in patients that are not actively breathing. Those patients need advanced invasive ventilation. If the patient has poor respiratory drive then invasive ventilation or CPAP with additional support is needed.
Following are a few conditions in which the use of the CPAP machine is contraindicated:
- Respiratory arrest.
- An uncooperative or anxious patient
- Trauma or burns involving the face
- Unstable cardiorespiratory status
- Altered consciousness and inability to protect their airway.
- Surgery involving the face, esophagus, or/ and stomach
- Excessive respiratory secretions
- Severe nausea and vomiting
- Severe respiratory disease like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Airway obstructive with a foreign object
- The patient that has a tracheostomy
- The patient suffering from pneumothorax
Misconceptions About CPAP:
Half knowledge is worse than NO knowledge. Half knowledge gives birth to misconceptions and those, in turn, lead to various problems.
Below are a few common misconceptions about CPAP machines:
- All CPAP machines are the same: This is not true. There are three types of CPAP machines: fixed, automatic, and BiPAP.
- You don’t need to use CPAP every night: While it might be the case for some people but not always true. People suffering from obstructive sleep apnea need to use a CPAP machine every night to keep their airway patent and to keep breathing.
- Only obese people need to use CPAP: This statement is also false. Narrowing or weakening of the muscles of the airway cause sleep apnea and snoring. It can occur in people irrespective of their weight.
- CPAP can cause infections: This is not true. If you follow proper hygiene and keep the mask and other parts of CPAP clean, you will not have to worry about infections. One thing is though that CPAP can aggravate sinus infections.
- The CPAP machine may suffocate me in cases of power-outs: The CPAP mask has exhalation ports to avoid any such circumstances. So you safely rule out this fear.
- All CPAP machines are obnoxiously loud: This is not true for most of the newer models. The new versions are mostly silent.
How to tackle problems you might face using CPAP?
When you start using something for the first time, there are many trials and errors. When you start using CPAP, you might face various issues. It can be because you don’t know how to use the CPAP machine.
Following are a few common issues you may face and their solutions:
- Leaking air from the side of the mask and irritation of the skin around your face: This is one of the most common and initial problems that people face when they start using CPAP. It occurs due to the size and fitting issues of the face mask. You can resolve this issue by using a different size or type of CPAP mask.
- Trouble getting used to CPAP mask: It is also a common issue because let’s face the fact that it takes time to get used to sleeping with something over your face. What you can do to help with this is to wear the CPAP mask for a few minutes to hours in the day time while awake. It will help program your mind to accept the mask.
- Difficulty in tolerating air pressure: In the initial days, try to keep the pressure setting at a minimal level to help you get used to the air pressure.
The Cost and Availability in Australia
The cost of CPAP varies depending on the quality of the machine and the pressure requirements. In Australia, you can get a cheap auto-pressure CPAP machine for around 750$ and a high-quality automatic CPAP machine for home for about 1600$.
CAPA machines are easily available in Australia, so availability is not an issue.
You should invest in a good quality CPAP machine. Buying a poor quality CPAP machine that keeps malfunction is going to cost you more in the long run. CPAP is for patients with breathing problems like obstructive sleep apnea.
CPAP machine not only helps to eliminate snoring from your life but for some people, it is vital to keep breathing while sleeping. In severe cases of obstructive sleep apnea, the person’s airway might collapse during sleeping and cause choking. So investing in a high-quality CPAP machine might help improve your quality of sleep and keep you from choking during sleep.
What Other Options Do you Have?
Apart from CPAP, you can choose tongue retainers or mandibular advancement devices.
It is important to note that CPAP is considered the first-line treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. CPAP applies positive pressure in the airway and keeps it patent. It helps to prevent breathing difficulty and snoring during sleeping.
TRD (tongue retainer device) is considered a second preference for obstructive sleep apnea. But some people prefer TRD over CPAP because CPAP is more invasive, larger, and has poor aesthetics.
The third option is a mandibular advancement device (MAD). These devices are considered to work better than TRDs for the management of sleep apnea and snoring. MADs and TRDs are easier to use than CPAP but not as effective. MADs and TRDs are portable and easy to manage. They also require less maintenance.
The Final Verdict
The fact is that snoring not only disrupts your sleep, it also compromises your well-being. But you don’t have to live with snoring and its consequences. There are various treatment options available to manage and treat your snoring problem. These options range from lifestyle modifications to surgical procedures.
Although there are portable and easy-to-use anti-snoring devices available in the market but compared to them CPAP has some superior features.
There is scientific evidence available that CPAP helps people with sleep troubles. For some people, the CPAP machine is not an option but a compulsion so that they can keep their airway patent (like people suffering from severe obstructive sleep apnea).
In short, CPAP is an excellent device that has promising results but the choice is up to you. You can choose MADs, TRDs, or any of the various anti-snoring devices available in the market. You should consult your primary physician to discuss which option is best for you.