Sleep Apnea can be a life-threatening disease. If you have been diagnosed, or if you or a loved one feels they have sleep apnea they should not let it go untreated. There are different ranges of sleep apnea depending upon the number of apneic events person experiences each hour. By definition, an apneic event is when a person stops breathing for 10 seconds or longer. There are three ways to treat sleep apnea.
There are several options for the treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea. The “Gold Standard” in the medical community is through the use of a device called CPAP (Constant Positive Air Pressure). The CPAP machine is attached to a mask which makes a seal around your mouth and/or nose supplying a continual flow of air while you sleep. The pressure of this air opens up your airway between the base of the tongue and the back of your throat. If you apply enough pressure and have a good enough seal with your mask you can almost always reduce the number of apneic events. Although these machines are capable of doing a good job in opening up the obstruction which causes obstructive sleep apnea, they can be intrusive to a patient’s sleep habits. Some find that although they can tolerate CPAP, they cannot find a comfortable mask. If you can sleep comfortably with a CPAP unit it is your best solution for sleep apnea.
There are many variations on the same theme including a machine called an AutoPAP and one called BiPAP. AutoPAP can dynamically change air pressure depending on the patient’s response. BiPAP also senses the patient’s needs but is only capable of applying different fixed pressures which are programmed by the Sleep Physicians who use the data collected from the polysomnogram. Both machines put out varying degrees of pressure depending upon what they sense the patient requires. There are many different options for masks including size, material, and application.