The machines also include a humidification chamber. The humidification chamber slightly raises the temperature of the water that is being used to humidify the air. The warm air works to soothe your upper airway and nasal passages while preventing the occasional swelling or other forms of discomfort that can occur during this type of therapy. Humidification is optional, but it does bring great relief to many CPAP therapy patients. For example, those who either live in drier climates or who frequently wake up with a dry nasal passage or throat.
The machine also comes with an attached hose that connects the box to the mask. This tubing is light, flexible, and heated to reduce any condensation that might collect in the interior while the humidifier is in use. The hose is around 6 feet which is long enough to allow you to move around comfortably while you sleep. These hoses will eventually wear out. Be prepared to replace them when needed.
Finally, the CPAP mask. Many believe that the success of CPAP therapy depends on how comfortable the mask is to the patient. Luckily, these masks are available in many sizes and shapes. It's not difficult to find one that fits well and is cozy for resting. CPAP masks do eventually wear out as well and should be replaced regularly.
CPAP supplies and machines take up very little space, and can easily fit on a nightstand or under the bed for simple storage.
What is CPAP Therapy?
CPAP Therapy effectively treats Sleep Apnea. The initials stand for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. Apnea refers to the blockage of the airways during sleep. The literal meaning of “apnea” is “without breath”; it is a Greek word. During sleep, the muscles in the mouth and throat relax, causing a part or total closure of the airways. This blockage reduces or stops air reaching the lungs and decreasing the amount of oxygen transferred to the blood.
The therapy keeps the airways open and maintains the continued supply of oxygen to the bloodstream through normal breathing. The airways stay open because pressurized air blows gently through, keeping the soft tissues from collapsing during sleep. The therapy involves using a machine and mask to send pressurized air through the airways every night.
How Does it Work?
The CPAP pump takes air from your room and pressurizes it. Then the pressurized air is transported through the tube and mask to be delivered to the upper airway (throat) via the nose or nose and mouth. The pressurized air keeps the upper airway open, allowing you to breathe while you sleep. The pattern of air pressure depends on the type of machine you use. For example, fixed pressure machines, or CPAP machines, deliver constant air pressure to you during sleep. However, APAP machines (or auto-titrating positive airway pressure machines) use algorithms to deliver air pressure according to your individual needs.
This type of therapy can be very effective for sleep apnea patients. The machine is simple to use, compact, and, if maintained with CPAP cleaner and regular part replacements, should last you a very long time.
Are They Hard to Use?
1. The CPAP machine is a simple device that is straightforward to set up and use.
2. The CPAP device consists of a box containing a small quiet compressor (motor) that pulls in air and pressurizes it. Different individuals require different air pressures to treat their Sleep Apnea.
3. The air passes through a filter to remove dust and allergens, meaning that the air provided to the airways is significantly cleaner than the room air. An antibacterial filter added to the usual filters further increases the air quality.
4. A humidifier with a water chamber comes with the machine that can provide warm moist air that assists in avoiding drying out the airways. It’s a matter of personal preference and comfort.
5. A six-foot hose transports the air from the machine to the mask. Gentle warming of the tube prevents water droplets forming when used with a humidifier.
6. The mask comes in a range of styles and can cover the nostrils or the full face and everything in between. The mask is the vital component for delivering the pressurized air to the airways. It needs to fit well and be comfortable in use to make the therapy consistent and bearable.
CPAP Therapy is a Treatment, Not a Cure
The only cure for Sleep Apnea is weight loss and lifestyle changes. These are difficult to achieve and take time. In the meantime, Sleep Apnea persists along with the adverse effects on health and wellbeing. The therapy is an effective treatment with excellent proven benefits, but it is not a cure and has to be undertaken every night for as long as you have sleep apnea.
Despite the noticeable benefits of improved alertness and focus and the risk of severe consequences of sleep deprivation and increased blood pressure, many patients do not stick with therapy. People don’t actively choose ill health, but they avoid present discomfort.
Simple adjustments and accessories can resolve most problems with getting used to the treatment. The health benefits and the improved quality of life mean it is worth trying to overcome these difficulties and establish regular nighttime use of the machine.
Types of CPAP Supplies
A CPAP supply item is part of the set-up of the machine, hose, and mask. They are all the essential components that keep the device delivering optimal air pressure to your airways. The accessories are items that make using the therapy more comfortable and pleasant. Accessories like mask liners, moisture cream, and additional padding fall under the heading of accessory – they are not essential to the therapy.
The main CPAP supplies are:
· Air Filters
· Humidifier and water chamber
When Should I Replace my CPAP Supplies?
Replace your CPAP supplies if they are dirty, broken, or damaged and plan to replace them on a regular cycle. The equipment needs to be in tip-top condition to provide high-quality air and maintain your health.
Parts of the mask cushions are in close contact with your skin. The build-up of oils and moisture from the skin can cause wear and tear. Items like nasal mask cushions and nasal pillows are in close contact with your nostrils. Replace to maintain cleanliness and an excellent air seal.
There are two types of air filters – reusable and disposable. The air filter takes out dust and allergens and will clog up in performance. Mold and bacteria will build-up if the filter is not changed regularly. Fine disposable filters should be changed every fourteen-days. Check the filters and replace them if they are worn and dirty.
Full face cushioning is in contact with a greater surface area of skin but is not as close to the nostrils. A monthly change will keep you fresh and clean.
The frame system for the mask is not in direct skin contact, but you will want to change it every three months.
If the hose develops leaks, then the air pressure is lost. Check that the tube is clean and flexible without damage and routinely replace every three months.
Wash reusable filters regularly and change every six months. If they are clogged or worn and, washing does not clean them – replace immediately.
The straps in the headgear and optional chin straps lose elasticity and they are in contact with sweat and skin oils. Replace at once if they are damaged or dirty.
Tap water contains minerals that cause the build-up of deposits in the humidifier and water chamber. These deposits may trap bacteria. Routinely change every 6-12 months or if the equipment is showing signs of damage, discoloration or excessive deposit build-up.