Conventional Treatments for Sleep Apnea
The conventional treatments sleep apnea include:
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
The most effective medical treatment for sleep apnea is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), in which the person wears in bed a nasal mask that is attached to a machine that pushes air through the nose to keep the breathing passages open.
To use the machine, a small, comfortable mask is fitted over the nose, leaving the mouth uncovered. Patients must sleep with their mouth closed, aided by a chin strap, while the machine gently blows air into the nose at a pressure slightly higher than the surrounding air pressure. Most people get used to CPAP quickly.
Literally within minutes of achieving the correct CPAP pressure to maintain an open airway, patients with obstructive sleep apnea start sleeping like people who have gone without sleep for many days. For the first week or so after starting to use the machine, patients will spend a great deal of time in deep sleep, while there is a marked decrease in the lighter sleep stages. Patients often report that there is a dramatic increase of daytime alertness and energy after just a few nights on CPAP.
Although the theory of nasal CPAP is simple, using it is not so simple because everything has to be adjusted properly. The air pressure must be high enough to maintain an open airway during all stages of sleep and in all body positions, but not so high that the pressure is bothersome. This requires careful monitoring and adjustment by a qualified sleep professional. The mask and machine itself also can be disturbing.
Approximately 60% to 70% of patients who try CPAP are able to continue its use; the remainder find the mask too uncomfortable. CPAP devices come in different sizes and some are made to change the pressure produced when breathing in or out (bilevel PAP) or in response to snoring and excessive narrowing of the throat. Variations of the CPAP device attempt to minimize side effects that sometimes occur. Some versions of CPAP vary the pressure to coincide with the person's breathing pattern, and others start with low pressure, slowly increasing it to allow the person to fall asleep before the full prescribed pressure is applied. These modifications of the standard CPAP device were made to improve comfort. In general, these newer PAP devices are tolerated as well as the standard CPAP apparatus.
CPAP is a very well- established treatment, and most insurance companies win cover the cost of the machine.
Common Complaints of CPAP Treatment
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