CPAP is an acronym for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. It is one of the possible treatment options for patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
Masks come in two main types.
Nasal delivery which are known as nasal masks or nasal pillow/cradle masks. These masks allow air flow to be exclusively directed through the nose.
Mouth and nasal delivery masks are known as full face masks. These masks allow air to be directed equally through the nose and/or mouth.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is part of the realm of sleep disordered breathing (SDB). Snoring is also part of the SDB family.
OSA is a breathing condition which is exclusive to when you are asleep. During sleep, the upper airway can become narrower causing breathing difficulty which can also include snoring. The airway can also become totally occluded, hence ceasing all manner of breathing for short, but at times longer periods. This can result in dropping of oxygen levels and can cause carbon dioxide to rise in the bloodstream.
Breathing becomes compromised which in turn causes the brain to react to rescue the breathing. The brain momentarily disrupts the sleep cycle in favour of resuming normal breathing, thus allows sleep to continue. This scenario can repeat itself over and over all night or while you are asleep.
There are a few modalities to immediately treating obstructive sleep apnea which include mandibular advancement splints and surgery. The gold standard and most successful modality is CPAP therapy.
CPAP therapy works by creating low air pressure in the upper airway. The CPAP unit creates an air flow via a tube connected to a mask which is sealed against the face. The air creates pressure in the upper airway and helps keep the patency of the airway to allow normal breathing to continue. Normal sleep is therefore maintained.
In most cases, CPAP will stop you from snoring. However if snoring continues, seek professional clinical attention. Refer to the Affiliates link in the Contact Us section for preferred CPAP specialists near you.
At the time of purchase, you would have already provided CPAP NOW with your pressure setting and any other parameters required. CPAP NOW will ensure the CPAP unit is set to your specific needs.
Some basic rules apply:
- Turn down humidity level in the winter and increase during the summer.
- Follow the directions of the CPAP units manual.
If you have successfully trialled a CPAP mask and unit, it is recommended that you purchase that particular mask.
If not, there is no guarantee the mask will be suitable by purchasing on the internet.
A fixed CPAP is set to a pressure prescribed by either a sleep lab or a physician/clinician. The unit will usually ramp up to the prescribed pressure over a set period of time.
An auto CPAP will have two pressures set by either a sleep lab or a physician/clinician. The CPAP unit will operate between these two pressures to ensure the patency of your upper airway.
In Australia CPAP is not listed on the PBS (Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme). Drugs that are prescribed by a doctor (prescribed medications), are listed on the PBS, therefore a script is necessary to present to a pharmacy to purchase the prescribed medication. CPAP is not a prescribed item, therefore no script is necessary.
You may be a current user of CPAP therapy and are looking to upgrade. In this scenario, no script is necessary either.
Scripts are necessary for CPAP however, if you want to claim on your private health benefits scheme.
Quality CPAP units such as Resmed, Philips and Fisher & Paykel have been known to last for more than a decade. How you maintain and look after your CPAP will have a direct correlation on how long it will last.
CPAP units are generally service-free except for changing the filters every 4-6 months and cleaning the humidifier chamber.
The main items that will need replacing on your mask will be the cushion/seal anywhere from 12-24 months which will depend on many variables notably tightness and washing intervals.
Headgear will also require replacement every 12 – 36 months depending on how it is maintained, notably tightness and washing intervals.