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What is CPAP & Why Do I Need One?
CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Pressure Airway. We covered Sleep Apnea in an earlier post How To Beat Sleep Apnea, but I guess if your reading this you haven’t managed to fully overcome this horrible condition. You probably know from the post what a CPAP machine is, but just in case you haven’t read it, here’s a quick summary of what a CPAP actual is and how it works.
obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) affects roughly 22 million Americans with 80% reporting moderate to severe OSA. When you go to sleep your muscles relax, including those in your throat. In some people, the fatty tissue in their airway has grown over time, and now that the throat is relaxed, the airway narrows causing difficulty breathing. In some people they actually stop breathing for a few seconds until their brain starts their breathing for them.
Some people wake up but some aren’t even aware what’s happened. If they stop breathing for more than 10 seconds it is called Hypopnoea. Breathing normally resumes with a grunt or a gasp, but once the muscles relax again, the whole process starts over. Severe sufferers can have this cycle hundreds of times a night, so due to their continual disturbed sleep, feel tired the next day. This obviously leads them onto other problems including, Insomnia, Health related problems, work problems, etc.
- Loud snoring
- Breath Pausing then restarting
- Gasping or struggling for breath
- Fatigue during the day
- Memory loss
- Difficulty concentrating
How does the CPAP actually work?
So a CPAP machine blows pressurized air through your airway at a constant pressure thereby preventing your airway from collapsing. It comprises of 3 main parts.
. 1. The Motor
This is basically a small compressor. It draws in air & gently pressurizes it to provide you with just the right amount that you need to keep you airway clear. It has a removable filter that screens out impurities that after a certain amount of time needs replacing. Newer CPAP’s have a small water tank that provides a humidifier, ideal for dry or arid climates, allowing people to wake up without dryness in their nose or throat. CPAP’s are very quiet, some are barely audible.
2. The Mask
CPAP masks come in all sorts of shapes and sizes but there are 3 main types, nasal pillows, nasal masks and full face masks. You will no doubt be advised by your practitioner which type & size is right for you. Most CPAP machines come with their own mask which can be sized appropriately anyway. The mask simply delivers the pressurized air through the air tight mask into your airway.
3. The Hose
This simply delivers the pressurized air from the motor to the mask. It will be approx 6 feet in length giving you more than enough hose for when you turn in the night or forget the mask is on you. The diameters vary according to which machine is used. A typical hose can be seen in the Mask picture above.
How do I get a CPAP machine?
You will first have to undergo a sleep study (polysomnogram). This is performed at a sleep clinic. Your results will be deliberated upon by a sleep specialist who will then decide if you need a CPAP and what type. Their may be other treatments they may wish to try before choosing the CPAP but in severe cases a CPAP will probably by the first point of call. You would then be asked to carry out a study where you sleep at the clinic overnight trying out different CPAP’s & masks till you find the right one for you.
The pre screening may have chosen you for a home test, which is more affordable than the sleep study but with less choice. This will all be decided at the initial sleep study.
The severity of your OSA will also be decided during the sleep study. This is determined by how often your breathing is affected over the course of an hour. This is measured using the Apnea Hypopnoea index (AHI)
Severity is measured using the following criteria-
- Mild – an AHI reading of 5 -14 episodes an hour
- Moderate – an AHI reading of 15-30 episodes an hour
- Severe – an AHI reading of more than 30 episodes an hour
CPAP treatment will normally be given to those suffering moderate to severe OSA
Once you receive your CPAP it’s important to use it regularly in order to alleviate your condition. Once discontinued your symptoms will reappear quickly and you’ll be back to square one!
By using the CPAP regularly, you can expect the following improvements to your OSA
- Reduced or eliminated snoring & breathing obstructions
- Improved quality of sleep
- Improved alertness during day
- Lower Blood Pressure
- Reduction in risk of serious health problems such as Heart disease & Stroke
Can I buy a CPAP machine without all the Sleep studies
Yes, of course you can. I know many people who have done just that. Some can’t afford the sleep study or get the time off so simply choose to buy one themselves. Obviously, it’s a good idea to run this by your GP or medical advisor first to see if they have any problems with it. Plus, we know of problems with medical insurance companies demanding rental for these machines of upto $200 per month. You may have to pay this, so it obviously makes sense to buy one yourself if you possibly can. With that being the case, we have decided to do a top 5 CPAP review.
What to look for when buying a cpap machine?
Your cpap machine needs certain features to ensure you get the correct treatment from the machine.. It should include at least the following features-
- Quiet operation- This is paramount and most new cpaps are very quiet√
- Has an Humidifier- If you live in dry area or suffer from dry throat you’ll need this feature
- Auto Adjust- Allows you to pre-set your preferred settings so no manual work needed
- Has Climate Control- Keeps the air clean & steady despite changes in temperature
- Portability- Your cpap should be portable enough to take everywhere with you
- Easy to use design- Look for something less complicated. User friendly LED’s etc
- Data recording New cpap’s all allow for data storage so you know what happened during your night
- Comfortable Mask- Not all machines come with these. You might need to buy a different one
- Excellent Customer reviews- Should have excellent reviews before you buy
So What is the Best cpap Machine to Buy?
Our Best Rated cpap Machine is-
This is the Rose Royce of CPAP’s. It as all the features we previously listed , it comes complete with a Carry Case making it easily portable. The reviews from Amazon are all 5 star rating even though there aren’t that many reviews at time of writing (18) as this product is quite new.
Let’s see how this product compares with our must have features-
The Pros of buying this Res Med Air Sense Autoset are-
- Quiet Operation ✔
- Has a Humidifier ✔
- Auto Adjust ✔
- Climate Control ✔
- Portability ✔
- Easy to use ✔
- Data Recording ✔
- Comfortable Mask ✔
- Excellent Customer reviews ✔
The Cons of buying this Res Med Air Sense Autoset are-
- Relatively new so not many reviews
- Quite pricey but still great value
Our own improvesleeps.com rating 10/10- Go for this one if you can afford it
Check out the current Amazon price Here
Cleaning Your New cpap Machine
This is very important. You will need to clean your cpap machine at least every week, but preferably every day. You will be using your cpap for 8 hours per night. As you can imagine, your exhaling impurities into the machine for this whole period, so it’s going to need a thorough clean. This really becomes quite a chore as it is usually done by hand using disinfectant & water but we find it’s a whole heap easier to use a Cleaning Machine to do this job for you.
We have reviewed some of the best cpap cleaners and have selected…..
This machine does this job for you automatically. It uses Ozone, also known as activated oxygen and this guarantees to clean your cpap of 99.9% of bacteria & germs. No water required and only takes 30 mins for full clean.
Pros of buying this VirtuClean Automatic cpap Cleaner are-
- Kills 99.9% of germs & bacteria in just 30 mins
- Small & Portable-weighs only 1lb
- Requires no soap, water or cleaning solutions
- Requires no maintenance
- Uses Ozone (Activated Oxygen) to disinfect your mask, tube & Humidifier Chamber
- Ultra quiet 10 year battery life
- 2 hours charging time-18 months warranty
- Over 35+ excellent rated customer reviews on Amazon
Cons of buying this VirtuClean Automatic cpap Cleaner are-
- Quite pricey but a very good cleaning solution
Our own improvesleeps.com rating 10/10