Sleep Apnea – More about the CPAP Machine

Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder that which plagues a large number of people all over the world. This disorder is basically characterized by infrequency of breath while a person sleeps. It affects the air passageway of the patient in such a way that it hinders the access of air to them. The infrequency or shallow breathing causes them to have an excess of carbon dioxide build up in their bloodstream while the oxygen levels decrease rapidly. This excess of oxygen causes them to wake up with a start, hence taking in large amounts of air which regulates the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream back to normal.

Sleep Apnea Treatments

Sleep apnea is a curable disorder and should be diagnosed properly and given the required medical attention. This disorder is not to be taken lightly as it causes long term damages to the patients and in some cases has even been known to be fatal.Sleep apnea has various treatments which include:

  • Behavioral therapy
  • Dental devices
  • Surgical procedures
  • CPAP machine

The CPAP machine is the most widely used treatment for this disorder and has proven to be the most effective for patients all over the world. While this method takes some getting used to, it is the one method which has gained the trust of patient worldwide. Let’s take a closer look at this treatment procedure in order to gain a deeper insight into its workings.

CPAP Machine – What Is It?

The CPAP fully known as the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine is a device which consists of a mask that patients wear while sleeping at night. As the name clearly suggests, the machine regulates a steady flow of airway pressure for the patient as they sleep. This continuous flow is devoid of any infrequencies of disruption, hence allowing the patient to have a night of sound sleep. This machine is to be worn during the night by the patient in order for it to work efficiently.

Sleep Apnea Mask – What is a sleep apnea mask?

A sleep apnea mask is the mask which fits over the patient’s mouth along with the CPAP machine. CPAP machines are often referred to as sleep apnea masks because the mask they work with is the basic component of the machine. A lot of importance is placed on the mask itself because being the basic component; this is what a patient needs to be most comfortable with. The mask is what the patient needs to choose according to their face as well as their comfort level. The machinery part of CPAP machine is something which is prescribed whereas the mask is to be chosen by patient based on their level of comfort. There are basically three kinds of masks:

  • Nasal Mask: This fits the nose and regulates air pressure through the nasal cavity of the patient.
  • Oral Mask: This kind of mask fits the mouth and regulates air pressure to the patient through their oral cavity.
  • Full Face Mask: This kind of mask regulates air pressure to the patient through the mouth as well as the nose.

While the doctor is responsible for prescribing which mask is required for the patient, it is imperative that they try the mask out first and choose the one that is most comfortable for them. This not only ensures efficient treatment but also a comfortable night’s sleep.

CPAP Machine – How Does It Work?

To understand the efficiency of the CPAP machine, it is imperative that its working be understood. As mention above that the machine consists of a mask which regulates a continuous flow of air pressure. Let’s take a closer look at how exactly the machine operates and ensures this steady flow of air pressure. The mask is usually supported with a hose that connects it to a small pump like device. The device has various settings of air pressure which are then regulated to the patient. These settings are closely monitored and prescribed by the doctor to patient, based upon their needs.

Types of CPAP Machines – What is the Best for Whom?

With the advancement in technology and the ever growing innovation CPAP machines are now becoming more and more efficient. There are two sub categories of CPAP machines which will be mentioned below to provide an easy guide for those struggling to find the right one.

  • APAP Machines or Auto CPAP: Known mostly as an Auto Positive Air Pressure Machine, the APAP Machine works on the principle of titration i.e that is works with determining or “titrating” the air pressure to understand the optimum level required for the patient. It does so throughout the night and keeps working at providing that optimum level which the patient requires at various points during the night. We can call it a more “intelligent” device because it is automatically programmed to understand what the patient needs rather than the regular CPAP machine which is provided with the requirements. The “titration” process helps this machine understand what exactly is the concentration of air pressure in the patient’s air passageway and how can it be regulated.


  • Bi-PAP Machines: Bi-PAP machines or the Bi-Level Positive Airway Pressure Machine works with two levels of air pressure in order to regulate an easy passage of air in the airways. To help this machine work optimally, doctors prescribe specific pressures to the machine. These pressures settings alternate; meaning that two pressure settings work together to assure safe regulation. One is a higher pressure which is breathed in by the patient. It is called the IPAP (inspiratory positive airway pressure). The second pressure level is the EPAP (expiratory positive airway pressure). This is the pressure setting which is exhaled by the patient.

How do CPAP Machines Work? – Determining What Suits You

The only way to knowing how exactly a CPAP machine would work for you is to discuss your options with your physician. Only a doctor can take a closer look at your condition and prescribe you your perfect match based on the severity of your condition. It is imperative to consult a doctor because choosing a PAP machine yourself might actually cause more harm than actually helping your condition. A doctor would know which of the three types are most suitable for you. For the simplest cases, usually a CPAP machine is prescribed while the more complex ones are treated with an APAP or a BPAP machine.

Doctors can determine which pressure settings should be used for what requirement, guide health precautions to be undertaken and so on. The one thing which the patient should however have an active participation is determining their comfort level. The patient has to wear the mask overnight which is why the doctor and patient should work together and choose the best possible mask.

CPAP Machine Settings – Can a Patient Change Them?

Contrary to popular belief, it is well within the rights ofa patient to adjust the settings on their CPAP machine. A patient should be able to adjust the setting son their machine, however it is imperative that they be educated and informed about the settings beforehand. This is only achieved by a healthy doctor-patient relationship in which the doctor should trust the patient enough with the required information.

It is actually quite simple to adjust your settings mostly due to the fact that all CPAP machines are easy to use. With the advancement in technology simpler ones are being designed for the patient’s use. Once a patient wishes to change the settings on their machine, they should consult their doctor over the possible benefits as well as the side effects of these changes.

Another important tip is to read the instruction manual f your CPAP machine thoroughly. It sounds quite boring and might seem like a tedious task but it might prove to be lifesaving as it is a sensitive health matter and must not be tampered with lightly. It is also very important to identify yourself with the machine through the pictures in the manual. This ensures visual cues and familiarizes patients with the machine visually as well as theoretically. Knowing the various parts of the machine and how each one contributes to it is something which every patient should know.

CPAP Pressure – How to Change Pressure Settings?

Changing the pressure settings on your CPAP machine is very simple. However, as mentioned above do not do so without trusting your physician for consent.The exact steps of adjusting pressure vary from model to model which is why you must gain as much information about your model and familiarize yourself to it. Firstly determine your machine’s model. Most models however follow these steps.

  • Unplug the cord from the back of the CPAP and press and hold the user buttons below your display. When the buttons beep finally, you can proceed forward as it means that you have entered the Therapy Setup Menu.
  • Reset your display which shows the number of hours the machine has been used. Erase this number by pressing down the ramp or humidifier button. Keep holding down the button until the time changes to 0 and the X which flashes on the screen is removed.
  • The next step is to set your elevation setting. This is also changed by the humidifier or ramp button.
  • Next up is the selection of the Therapy Mode which can be chosen from CPAP and CFLEX. Choose your setting accordingly.
  • The CPAP Pressure setting appears next and you can adjust this through the ramp and humidifier button.

If you do not wish to make any changes in any of the options, you have the choice to skip it by using the right user button.

CPAP Maintenance – How to Care for and Clean Your CPAP Machine?

It is necessary that you regularly clean your CPAP machine as it might get affected by the residual objects in the air. In order to ensure efficient treatment it is imperative that utmost care be taken and the machine is provided with hygiene. This is mostly done to avoid any formation of bacterial culture as that can lead to serious repercussions for the patient. The parts which require special cleaning and care are the tubing and the mask.

  • Daily Cleaning: Clean your mask on a daily basis in order to avoid any infections or bacterial formation. This can be done easily with some warm water and soap by using a piece of cloth and wiping the surfaces of the machine clean.
  • Weekly Cleaning: This needs to be done on a larger scale. Think of this as “bath time” for your machine. Take apart the various parts specially the tubing and the mask from the pressure device. Soak these parts in a tub or a bucket filled with warm water and detergent. Once this is done rinse the parts with clean water and then let them either air dry or opt for wiping them dry. It is better to air dry these parts as the risk of additional germs are minimized.

Efficiency of CPAP Machines – Pros and Cons of CPAP

Just like any method, CPAP Machines have their own pros and cons. It is important to take a look at both in order to help patients make an informed decision about this choice of treatment. To end this guide on a more positive note, let’s first discuss the cons of this treatment method.

  • The method is deemed uncomfortable by many as they feel claustrophobic with the mask on.
  • The constant airflow often causes nasal bleeding, irritation and in some cases dryness of the airway.
  • Sore gums and buccal and nasal cavity (mouth and nose) is also a common complaint for many.
  • Some patients cannot simply get used to fitting a mask over their mouths all night.

Now let’s take a closer look at all the advantages of this method.

  • It is an efficient treatment for those who have not found relief from behavioral therapy or lifestyle changes and do not wat to undergo surgical procedures.
  • The required air pressure is provided to the patient with a regulated frequency.
  • The right mask size helps the patient achieve a better night’s sleep.
  • The device is compact and can be taken wherever the patient requires taking it.

CPAP Machines – Yes or No?

This a question which many patients ask doctors. As mentioned above the treatment method has positive as well as negative aspects. What is important is that the doctor and patient have a detailed discussion and figure out if the treatment is suitable for the patient and then fine tune it according to their needs.