CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, is often diagnosed to treat central and obstructive sleep apnea. The technology behind the machine is vital in improving health outcomes in patients with sleep apnea; here’s how a CPAP machine works.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Understanding what the machines are treating is essential to understanding how they work. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by decreases or complete stops of breathing while a patient is asleep. There are two main types of this disorder, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea (CSA).
OSA is caused by something blocking the airway at the back of the throat and is often the cause of snoring and choking sounds while asleep. OSA is the more common type, with an estimated 10%-30% of US adults experiencing this disorder. CSA involves a miscommunication between the brain and the muscles that control breathing, causing a shallowing or lapse in breathing. CSA is less common, affecting only 1% of the population.
How CPAP Machines Help
CPAP machines provide air to your airway at a pressure just high enough to prevent your airway from collapsing. While the machine doesn’t breathe for you, it makes it easier for you to breathe and prevents your airway from tightening. The CPAP machine is only one type of PAP machine.
Types of CPAP Machines
There is a variety of PAP machines for different types of sleep apnea. Here are the three main types and how they work:
- Bi-level PAP. This machine uses two different pressures during inhalation and exhalation.
- Auto CPAP. This device self-regulates, using a range of pressures to keep airways open.
- Adaptive servo-ventilation (ASV). This is only for patients with central sleep apnea; ASV keeps your airway open by delivering a mandatory breath only when necessary.
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