Have you ever felt tired after a long night sleep? Or has your partner ever complained about your loud snore? The problem could be sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition in which breathing is interrupted during sleep. It’s characterized by cessation of breathing for a couple of seconds. Eventually, there is an alteration in sleep patterns and some other disorders that could be hazardous. There is, however, no need for alarm, as there is a perfect treatment option in continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). All you need is a CPAP machine and a CPAP pillow.
Why is there a need to control sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is associated with some injurious health hazards. These include heart problems, cerebrovascular accidents (stroke), diabetes and accidents that may result from daytime sleepiness. To prevent these, sleep apnea has to be controlled. Besides, CPAP treatment for sleep apnea could save on medical expenses incurred in the treatment of associated morbidities. Moreover, sleep apnea predisposes you to depression. It’s therefore clear that controlling sleep apnea boosts overall health and thus improving the quality of life.
Of all the non-invasive solutions for ongoing sleep apnea problems, CPAP is regarded as the most effective. This explains why it’s widely used globally as the first line treatment for sleep apnea. The following are some of the positives we can obtain from CPAP.
Studies have shown that in individuals with severe sleep apnea, CPAP therapy via nasal prongs lowers their blood pressure, significantly reducing the risk of morbidities associated with hypertension.
Research has proven that individuals with sleep apnea, using CPAP for a larger part of every night (6 to 8 hours) have a markedly reduced rate of depression and reduced predisposition to cardiovascular issues.
Recent studies have revealed that CPAP decreases daytime drowsiness in people with sleep apnea.
Individuals with ischemic heart diseases like coronary heart disease who use CPAP as a treatment for sleep apnea have a reduced risk of heart failure.
How does CPAP work to control sleep apnea?
To effectively understand the mechanisms by which CPAP machine controls sleep apnea, you need to first understand the pathology behind sleep apnea discussed below.
Sleep apnea pathology
The initial step in the development of sleep apnea is narrowing of the upper airways and decrease in their patency. This could be due to a couple of factors such as excessive nasal secretions, macroglossia ( large tongue), alteration in size of pharynx due to obesity, reduced activity of muscles which dilate the upper airways due to excessive alcohol consumption, etc. Narrowing, or decrease in patency of the upper airways can eventually cause on and off obstruction during inhalation, regardless of the inspiratory effort. Prolonged obstruction leads to a fall in levels of oxygen in the blood, which awakens the person. If this happens continuously, normal sleep pattern is affected. Sometimes relaxation of the throat muscles can also cause sleep apnea.
The mechanism by which CPAP works
This machine infuses air at an optimum pressure to prevent airway collapse. The continuous pressure flow initiated by the suitably designed CPAP machine keeps the airways open for individuals who can initiate spontaneous breathing. The main aim of CPAP therapy is to lower the work of breathing, which is the respiratory effort to ensure oxygenation and ventilation takes place with ease. With reduced work of breathing, you can sleep comfortably without being aroused. This clearly makes it an effective remedy for ongoing sleep apnea problems.
Are there any adverse effects encountered with CPAP therapy?
Yes, there are few issues a person using CPAP therapy might face. These include:
- Sore throats and dry nasal cavity,
- Nasal wall irritation, runny nose, and nasal blockage,
- Exaggerated dreaming in the early days of therapy,
- Bloating and
- Epistaxis (nose bleeding), which is a rare side effect.
Are there any remedies to the side effects?
Absolutely! Nasal decongestants and nasal sprays can be used to control nasal blockage. Corticosteroids and mast cell stabilizers can be used to control nasal irritations. Besides, humidifiers can be used for the irritations and runny nose. In addition, make sure you buy the right kind of CPAP pillow for the effectiveness of the therapy. However, if you experience any adverse effect of CPAP treatment, I highly recommend you consult your personal physician before using any of these drugs.
My personal opinion on CPAP treatment
From the above discussion, it’s vivid that CPAP therapy is an effective remedy for sleep apnea. I’ll advise that while using CPAP, make sure to regularly see your physician. Besides, ensure that you have a clear understanding of how the machine operates for effective treatment. Let’s deal with sleep apnea accordingly, shall we?