What is CPAP Therapy?
Continuous positive airway pressure CPAP therapy is a form of therapy that facilitates individuals with breathing disorders (particularly obstructive sleep apnea) in breathing easily and thus improves their sleep and quality of life.
The idea behind CPAP was to continuously circulate air through the respiratory tract to ease breathing. At the elementary stage, during experiments, the patients stayed in the lab to receive the treatment, however, by 1981, the first CPAP machine was invented. This was a breakthrough as the patients could now take the CPAP machines home.
The history and origin of CPAP
The history of CPAP dates back to 1980 when Dr. Colin Sullivan attempted to treat his dog’s breathing issues with a vacuum cleaner. From his early research days, Dr. Sullivan had shown a deep interest in studying the relationship between sleep and breathing. His research on sleep and breathing airways began with him doing a joint study with his mentor to identify the cause behind Sudden Infant Death syndrome. Later on, he continued to explore the breathing difficulties faced by different breeds of dogs due to restricted airways. This led him to try it on his dog and then eventually with humans by attaching a vacuum cleaner motor to a mask and hoses.
However, today the applications vastly apply to humans and CPAP machines have become more and more portable and convenient over the years. Regardless of the improvements in design, functionality, and convenience, many people still have trouble with the basics and can’t seem to get their CPAP masks to fit properly or work the right way. Then there are people who have difficulty adjusting to wearing a CPAP mask while they sleep. To help out, we’ve prepared this guide and included some tips to help your adjustment to a CPAP mask easier.
Check if the CPAP Mask actually fits you
Over the years, with the fast pace of technological advancements, CPAP machines evolved into becoming more intuitive and portable. Initially, CPAP masks were created for each individual from fiberglass using plaster molds and then attached to the face of the patient using silicone adhesives. While the fit wasn’t the issue in older variations, they were cumbersome, to say the least. Obviously today the ordeal is much more merciful as CPAP machines are no longer as heavy, difficult to carry, and cumbersome to use.
Gradually the machine size decreased and so did the weight, making it so portable that in some cases it weighs less than a pound and can fit into the palm of your hand. However, people still seem to struggle with CPAP masks and how to properly use them. First and foremost, see which type of CPAP mask would best suit you. You have different options such as a full face mask, a nasal mask, or a nasal pillow mask. Consulting with your doctor will give you a good idea of which one to opt for.
Secondly, ensure that you’re following the manufacturer’s instructions correctly. You’ll find instructions guiding you on how to properly put on your mask and set up your CPAP machine. However, as a general guideline, adjust your headgear until the mask sits snugly on your face. Make sure it isn’t too tight or you’ll end up with blisters.
Adjust the pressure
Your mask could also be slipping off your face in the middle of the night because the pressure settings on the CPAP machine might not be set correctly according to your needs. The wrong pressure settings can cause a lot more issues than the mask just slipping off your face though. Too high a pressure can cause irritation and dryness in the eyes, nose, and mouth, and if too low, then you wouldn’t be getting enough oxygen, defeating the very purpose of your CPAP machine.
However, you also find many models in the market today that adjust the pressure automatically throughout the night. Traditionally CPAP machines were controlled manually by doctors to control the output but now they’ve come to a point where they adjust automatically. It begins with a low pressure to enable the patient to fall asleep and then automatically manages the pressure as per the level set once the patient is in deep sleep to ensure the airways are well supported during sleep.
However, if you’re using a model that doesn’t have auto adjustment and you’re properly putting your face mask on and still find it slipping off in the middle of the night, then contact your doctor to talk about adjusting the pressure on your CPAP machine. Do not make any adjustments whatsoever without consulting with your doctor! Alternatively, you could switch to a full face mask, which would not only prevent the mask from coming off but also distribute oxygen over a wider area, making the experience a bit more comfortable in some ways.
Adjusting to a CPAP Mask
One of the biggest issues people face in adjusting to CPAP masks ( Nasal CPAP Mask, Pillow CPAP Mask, Full Face CPAP Mask )is the dryness that they can cause at times. There’s no denying that regular use of CPAP machines in some cases caused the airways to dry out. To address that, a humidifying chamber was introduced to add more moisture to the air which can also be adjusted by monitoring the heat level to tailor it to your preference.
Some people also face issues in falling asleep and understandably so, considering the considerably sizable machine that’s attached to their face. Doctors sometimes prescribe sleeping aids for the initial few weeks so as to help patients transition. With time, however, one gets used to the CPAP mask, and falling asleep becomes just as easy as it used to be before.
Some people have also reported feeling claustrophobic and waking up in the middle of the night because of it. The best way to address that is to wear the mask while you’re doing something relaxing like reading a book or watching TV. With time your body will associate the mask with the same relaxed sensation and you’ll find the claustrophobic feeling will lessen.
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