CPAP, which stands for ‘continuous positive airway pressure,’ is recognized by many as the ‘preferred treatment for obstructive sleep apnea.’ In other words… in the world of snoring treatments, with obstructive sleep apnea being the ‘worst of the worst’ as far as conditions involving snoring are concerned… CPAP is the number-one gun that is used to help defeat it.
CPAP technology is harnessed through a machine, called a CPAP machine. This machine builds up positive pressure, and delivers it to the airway via a mask. This mask must be worn while the user is asleep to benefit him or her, and delivers a steady stream of positive pressure to help keep the airways open while the muscles and tissues of the soft palate are relaxing.
But is CPAP really as good a treatment as everyone says? If so, then why does it seem to get such a bad rap online?
Here is what you need to know.
How Is A CPAP Machine Meant To Work?
So the concept behind the CPAP machine is pretty simple. Most cases of snoring (as well as most cases of obstructive sleep apnea) are caused by a phenomenon known as soft palate vibration. This happens when the soft tissues and muscles in the back of the throat relax and ‘collapse in’ on the airway. This either restricts or completely blocks the airway, and can lead to either a vibration of the tissue as the air moves through while breathing (resulting in snoring), or a complete halt in the movement of air altogether (resulting in an ‘apnea’).
But CPAP machines help to treat this problem by increasing the air pressure in the airway. The CPAP machine creates positive air pressure, and feeds this into the airway via the mask that is worn while the user sleeps. This increase in air pressure ‘pushes back’ against the collapsing walls of the soft palate – thus creating more room for the air to move through, and helping to solve (or at least minimize) the snoring/sleep apnea problem.
That is the idea behind CPAP machines and how they treat snoring.
Do We Believe That This Method Works?
CPAP machines are one of the best tools we have in the fight against sleep apnea. They are also, by default, very good at helping to treat snoring.
But they are also not without their downsides.
Yes, CPAP machines work… but did you know that the US National Library of Medicine stated, in a recent report, that only 30 to 60 percent of CPAP users actually use their machine every night?
This might seem strange to think about – but it is true. The rest of CPAP users either use their machines very sporadically, or not at all.
But why? Why would users forgo the machine that could help them to sleep better when that machine is literally sitting right next to their bed?
The answer, unfortunately, is hiding in plain sight. In order to use a CPAP machine, you must wear a mask – which is not only invasive, but also pretty labor-intensive. And for some people, it is even embarrassing… so that is a negative thing as well!
We do like CPAP machines because they have been proven to help with both snoring and sleep apnea – but before they can be useful, they need to be used regularly. And therein lies the greatest problem with CPAP therapy.
Who Should Use This Type Of Product, And When?
Anyone who gets a sleep study and is diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea could use a CPAP machine. There is obviously no one-size-fits-all to medicine, but this is the preferred treatment for OSA, and for good reason.
You will need to use the device every night, however, if you wish to see results.
Who Should Avoid Using This Type Of Product?
You should not use CPAP if you have not had your sleep apnea diagnosed by a doctor. You should also not use a CPAP machine unless it has been adjusted by a licensed technician. People with really severe allergies may not be able to get comfortable with the device, and people with very sensitive skin might develop too much irritation where the mask sits against the face to really be able to use it effectively.
If you feel that you may be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea, then you should most definitely talk to your doctor about the possibility of using CPAP to treat it. He/she will know whether or not you may make a good candidate for this remedy. It really does work, and despite its downsides, it is one of the best tools at our disposal in the fight against obstructive sleep apnea and the debilitating long-term effects that the disorder can have on your life.