Over 950 million people in the world are afflicted by sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder caused by collapsed airways when a person is asleep. It is a disorder that affects both males and females of all age brackets and even children. Sleep apnea might lead an individual into several complications if not handled fast. It can cause daytime sleepiness, mood disorders, and other heart-related problems like strokes and heart attacks.
Sleeping apnea causes sleep interruption throughout the night. Patients will wake up in the middle of the night due to the temporal stop of breathing. However, normal breathing starts again after you are awake. But then, what is the cure or remedy of this disorder? Is this disorder curable?
Right, with the advancements of technology, things have changed. Several devices are in place to solve the common problem people suffer. The CPAP machine is a handy device providing an immediate remedy for sleep apnea. It is a small compressor designed to exude air through the hose tubing and the mask to ensure your airways are left open throughout.
CPAP machines offer patients a lot of benefits. However, before we get deeper into discussing the machine, you should learn that the machine is not a cure for sleep apnea but just a remedy for the disorder. You will get relief from the problem only while in use, and the problem continues when it is turned off.
Before you start using the CPAP machine, you need to visit an expert physician to determine whether you’re meant for it. A physician will carry out several tests, including your breathing patterns and everything essential to come up with an ideal solution about the matter. Once the test results are out, and you need the machine, you’ll get a perfect machine from a nearby store.
A CPAP offers sleep apnea several benefits. As a patient, you will have improved rest throughout the night; this will make you feel more alert the following day to have a productive day. Apart from this, lack of sufficient sleep also leads to health conditions such as depression, stroke, heart attack, and diabetes. These are serious health complications that need to be addressed before they develop. So, if you have sleep apnea complications, get administered to CPAP therapy to avoid such complications in the future.
How the CPAP Machine Works
A CPAP machine is a small unit designed to help sleep apnea patients enjoy a sound sleep. But then, how does it work? CPAP machines are made up of three main components, the mask, hose, and the motor (the engine of the machine). They draw air, pressurizes it, and passé through the airways to keep them open while asleep.
There are other added components of the machine that enables it to run efficiently. There is a filter at the air intake part of the machine responsible for purifying the air inside the machine before it passes through the lungs’ airways. On the other hand, there is a humidifier; however, not all CPAP machines come with it. The humidifiers have small water tanks; they are meant to ensure the patient’s breath in warm moist air rather than dry air, causing some health complications like developing dry mouth and nose.
Several types of masks come with these machines. We have the Nasal CPAP mask, full face CPAP mask, and the nasal pillows. The choice you’ll depends on your needs and comfort levels you want to achieve. The CPAP machines are an ideal solution to sleep apnea patients working to effectively reduce or even stop sleep interruptions that occur while you are asleep.
The machines also have additional features; however, most of them are optional. There are the flexible chin straps that are meant to enable the patients to breathe through the nose. The CPAP machine works by exuding pressure to the airways, so if a patient breathes through the mouth in this case, the remedy might become useless since pressure will be distributed proportionally through both the nose and mouth.
Is the CPAP Machine Used Forever?
As we have learned, the CPAP machine is a remedy for sleep apnea and not a cure. It reliefs an individual from night interruptions that occur due to temporal closure of airways. The machine works for a patient once it is worn for use, and the problem can resume once it’s turned off. There are over the counter medications meant to cure sleep apnea; so, you can leave using the machine once you are cured of the problem.
However, anything with advantages possibly has a few disadvantages with it. In the medical industry, the CPAP machined has proved beneficial to sleep apnea patients at large, but then these machines also have some side effects. Air pressure generated by the machine is one of the common causes of the CPAP machine side effects. The effects can also arise from the regular use of the mask at large. However, all these side effects can be resolved if you get advice from an expert on using the machine properly. Below are a few side effects of CPAP machines you should learn;
- Allergens and skin irritation
These effects most arise depending on the type of mask you use. There are various CPAP machine masks designed with different materials and of different sizes at large in the market. In case you develop an allergy or skin reaction after using a particular mask, you need to change into the other type and note the situation. You will keep switching masks until you get the one that works well for you.
Besides this, new CPAP machine models in the market are designed with special types of straps purposely to ensure the skin doesn’t get into contact with the mask. This way, you will prevent skin irritations and allergies that might develop due to a mask’s usage.
There are a lot of foreign materials collected along with the air inside the CPAP machine. Additionally, there are other germs in the lungs and the airways, and they get deposited in the machine while breathing. All of this might lead to the development of infections like lung infections and sinus. You can avoid the infections by ensuring there is regular cleanup of the CPAP machine.
- Sneezing and runny nose
These effects arise due to the type of mask used and the type of air forced into your airways. Breathing in dry air causes a lot of complications at large. This is the reason you will need a humidifier to ensure you breathe in moist warm air.
Such instances can also be relieved using the nose sprays available in the market. However, if the effects continue, you need to seek a physician’s help to recommend a possible remedy to alleviate the symptoms.
- Dry mouth
The CPAP machines work by exuding pressure that forces air in through the airways. Since this is the case, it’s only recommendable breathing through the nose. However, if you find yourself breathing through the mouth, this way, the pressure will be distributed evenly through the mouth and the nose. The effect of dry mouth arises due to breathing through the mouth. This can be prevented by using a heated humidifier that helps a patient breathe in moist warm water. However, if the problem persists, you need to seek advice from a physician who will recommend using a chin strap. Special chin straps help to keep the mouth closed to enable you to breathe only through the nose.
Bloating and stomach discomforts arise due to the pressure exuded by the machine. Physicians always recommend patients set their machines starting at the lowest pressures and adjust them as they adapt to the machine’s usage. In case you experience such problems, get the help of an expert who will advise you on the right pressure levels to set on your machine.
New users of the CPAP machine usually find it uncomfortable wearing a mask. You need a mask that fits you well, a mask that is neither too loose nor too tight. You also need to use the mask frequently to get used to it. Use it whenever there is a chance so that you adapt to the sensations fast. In case the problem persists, you need to consult a physician to tell you whether you’re using the right mask or need to try another type.
Excessive noise might affect the hearing system at large. Some individuals will use older models in the market. They are fond of producing a lot of noise once they are put on. To minimize noise, you will need a white noise machine or fan to disguise it. However, you can consider a newer model designed that is relatively quieter.
- Ear pain or headaches
The problem arises when there is trapped air that is prevented from getting out. The air causes sinus pain that affects the head and the ears. Once you develop these problems, you need to stop using the machine and treat the congestion before using it again.
- Unable to breath
Sometimes, you might find it difficult to breathe after you start using this machine at large. This indicates that you have developed a or rather you have an underlying problem with the nasal airway. To prevent the problem, you need to use over the counter medications that are meant to relieve flu symptoms. In case the problem persists, you will need surgery to determine the underlying problem.
These are a few commonly experienced side effects of using the CPAP machine. Patient experience has many other side effects if they don’t use the machine as prescribed by a physician. The CPAP machine’s wrong usage can cause even more severe health problems like high blood pressure, diabetes, and fatigue, among others. To avoid such effects, you need an exact prescription from an expert physician on the machine’s use. You need to set up favorable pressure levels and use all other essential additional components that are important for added advantage about the machine’s correct usage.
How to Check and Adjust the CPAP Machine Pressure Levels
There are specified expert-recommended pressure levels patients should adhere to if you need to reap the CPAP machine’s benefits. The CPAP pressure is measure in centimeters in water, written as cm/H2O. The set standard pressure levels for effective results range between 6 and 15 cm/H2O. The range of pressure depends on the severity of the disorder and individual needs. Mostly, beginner users are advised to use low pressures as they advance slowly over time while adapting to the machine’s use.
There is the titrated pressure; this is the first level a patient needs to starts with. However, with time, the pressure might be low to other people. They will begin to feel tired throughout after use. You will need to advance high in such situations until you reach a level you’re satisfied with.
Adjusting the CPAP Machine
Most side effects developing to the use of the machine arise due to the machine’s wrong setting at large. If you lack ideas on the correct settings, you need to check an expert who will ensure the machine is set before use.
After purchasing a CPAP machine, you will have a detailed manual from the manufacturer; you will follow to make any pressure changes whenever needed. Most machines measure levels of between 4 to 20 cm/H2O. To set up your preferred level, you will click on the setup option on the screen. Hold the wheel and ramp buttons together and at the same time for some seconds. You will settle on the correct measure once you hear a few beeps.
Preventing CPAP Machine Side Effects
We always need the best of best from the machines we use. The CPAP machines can cause many side effects if they are not used as prescribed by an expert physician. Below are a few common ways you can use to prevent the effects from developing;
- Regular cleaning of the system
Cleaning is a way of maintaining your machine and preventing the side effects that develop after usage of contaminated parts. You need to clean the components of the machine regularly to avoid the buildup of bacteria. You will need to run warm water through the system with a mild soap agent. This way, you will remove all the germs in the system to ensure you get the best from the machine.
- Use the right mask
There is a wide variety of CPAP masks in the market designed for different materials and sizes. For a start, you might not know the type of mask that will work best for you. However, over time of use, if you develop skin irritation conditions, you’ll need to switch to other types until you get the right one. You can seek advice from a doctor to help you determine the right mask to use.
- Always clean your face before wearing a mask
Before you go to bed, you need to ensure your face is free from any oily product or moisturizer. These products usually build up on the face if a mask is worn on them.
- Ensure there is a proper connection between components
Before you turn on your CPAP machine for use, you need to ensure all the parts are correctly fitted into their respective places. Also, ensure they are of the right state to work correctly. For instance, improper functioning humidifiers might lead to the development of respiratory-related effects such as dry nose and nosebleeds. Therefore, you need to inspect the components maybe weekly to ensure they are all properly working.
Caring and Maintain of the CPAP Machines
Like any other equipment, you need to care and maintain your CPAP machine to serve you effectively for an extended period. Once you get used to the machine, you will be in a dilemma of maximizing their use. To attain the best of best from them, it’s the patient’s responsibility to maintain them so that they continue working well for them. Below are a few tips on how to care and maintain the CPAP machine to learn.
- Clean the tubing and mask regularly
Usually, bacterial develops on these parts if they are not cleaned regularly. In the market, there are various wipes and sprays designed for such a job. However, if you can’t afford them, there is a way you can alternatively use it to clean them. You can use warm water and any other mild soap detergent to clean the components. Cleaning your machine should be made a habit, at least once a week can be better. You also need to rinse the system thoroughly to ensure all bacteria and germs are eliminated.
- Regular replacement of the components
Some components, like the masks and tubing, don’t last for a long time. They will serve you for about six months, and they are done, you will have to replace them. Also, while on your regular cleaning duties, look for possible leaks in the entire system. In case there are any, you need to replace the component o ensure the machine continue working efficiently for you.
- Service the machine regularly
Most people like to assume that everything is working effectively, even though they haven’t confirmed that. Long time usage of the machine might make the machine less calibrated; It will start displaying wrong pressure levels. Wrong measures mean you will be losing out the CPAP machine treatment efficacy. Therefore, ensure the machine is regularly serviced by an expert to ensure it measures correct pressure levels.
- Store the CPAP machine in a secure place
Different machines have specified places or storage cabinets for easy and safe storage. There are cabinets specifically designed to store the CPAP machines. You can either create space at your home drawers to keep them or buy a separate unit specifically.
Once we have learned on a few side effects of the CPAP machines and how we can prevent them, it’s better to know that using the right machine also adds up in the overall prevention of developing. So, how do you choose the right CPAP machine? Below are a few tips to consider when buying a CPAP machine.
Tips to Buy or Rent the Best CPAP Machine
- Get recommendations
This should be your first consideration before you rent or buy a good CPAP machine to use. Reach out those who have used the machines before and get a hint on the best current models available that will work effectively for you.
- Ensure you test them thoroughly
You need a machine that will work effectively. Different machines are designed with different features at large. They are also made of different styles and shapes. Look at them keenly and try to evaluate them separately to determine the best of them. The best machine to consider should come along with a sizable mask, made from a good material, equipped with all the necessary features and everything that will ensure you get the best results.
- Read customer reviews and testimonials.
Customer reviews and testimonials of people who have used the machines before will help you understand these machines’ differences. You will have the opportunity to know the essential features a machine should have to work effectively. Read them and settle on the best machine from a list of the best market brands.
- Get the help of a personal shopper.
These are people who have in-depth details about the CPAP machines. They will guide you through different machines and outline the difference existing between them. Regarding your level of obstruction, they will also help you identify the best machine to consider.
The CPAP machine is your partner to enjoy a sound sleep. They are designed to ensure the airways are kept open while asleep. However, for the machine to serve you effectively and for an extended period, you need to maintain it. Cleaning is one way of maintaining the machine; use the right cleaners to ensure the system is free of bacteria and germs.