CPAP or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure is a mode of artificial ventilation of the lungs with the development of positive pressure in the airways after exhalation. Currently, CPAP-therapy is used for treating snoring, sleep apnea treatment, arterial hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, daytime sleepiness, obesity, impotence, insomnia, and depression. How do CPAP-therapy cure so many diseases? It’s believed that all these diseases are closely related to a disturbance of sleep.
Why is Sleep so Important?
Sleep helps the body to unwind from the stress with which a man or woman is faced daily. During sleep, hormonal regulation occurs in our body. Some hormones secrete only during sleep, and some hormones secrete only after sleep. Therefore, if sleep is diminished, it produces a disturbance of the hormonal balance and nervous system transmitters, which ultimately causes the evolution of various physical and psychological diseases. The main cause of disturbance of sleep is sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a lack of pulmonary ventilation during sleep for more than 10 seconds, which is characterized by decreasing of oxygen saturation in the blood (SaO2) by 4% or more. The amount of episodes of sleep apnea may occasionally be up to 60 percent of the overall nighttime sleep. Standard sleep apnea (usually not less than 10-15 times in a hour) is called obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. The principal signs of the obstructive sleep apnea syndrome are daytime sleepiness, deterioration of memory and intelligence affecting ability to work and a constant sense of fatigue.
The main reason for obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is an obstruction of the upper airways. Obstruction of the upper airways means that air can’t enter the lungs and there’s oxygen deprivation of the entire organism.
CPAP – Why is it Used?
CPAP-therapy was introduced to clinical practice in 1981 by an Australian physician and Professor. Colin Sullivan for treating obstructive sleep apnea syndrome.
The mechanism of action of the CPAP device is quite simple. A small compressor is used for producing constant air flow under a certain pressure in the airways during exhalation through a flexible tube and a nose mask. Additionally it is used a humidifier that provides moisturizing and heats the air which enters the airways. This device doesn’t allow the upper airways to be blocked because of the constant positive air pressure and eliminates the most important cause of the obstructive sleep apnea syndrome.
CPAP-therapy for patients with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is currently universally accepted. Before prescribing CPAP-therapy, a Polysomnography is required or in other words a Sleep Study. Polysomnography is a medical examination of a patient’s sleep with the use of specialized computer systems. Polysomnography allows calculating the apnea index and determining the severity of the disease.
The apnea index is the frequency of apnea episodes during one hour of sleep. Apnea index determines the severity of the obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. The apnea index is considered pathologically important if there are more than 20 apnea episodes per hour, irrespective of the existence or absence of clinical signs. By the way, more than 5 attacks of sleep apnea episodes are thought of as threatening for a person with a gradual development of daytime drowsiness, memory impairment, psycho-emotional disorders, sleeplessness, development of cardiovascular diseases (arterial hypertension, coronary heart disease or stroke), and disturbance of cardiac rhythm.
CPAP – How is it Used?
The first session of CPAP-therapy is performed on the next night after a diagnostic polysomnography. The purpose of the first CPAP session is to pick the minimum air pressure that eliminates obstructive apnea, snoring and other respiratory disturbances in most positions of the body and in all stages of sleep. During the first session of CPAP-therapy, the minimal set of parameters will be listed: electroencephalography, electrooculography, electromyography, chest and abdominal movements, body position, snoring, electrocardiography, blood saturation. These parameters let you ascertain the work of the mind and the period of sleep, which excludes the possibility of insufficient air pressure through undiagnosed wakefulness episodes.
The”golden rule” is to use CPAP machine every night during the entire time of sleep. Patients frequently follow this recommendation in severe forms of obstructive sleep apnea. In this case, there is an improvement in the quality of sleep and daytime activity. In the moderate and mild forms of the disease, the annoying effect of the mask and airflow may sometimes reduce the quality of sleep, nevertheless, there is a clear positive effect on daytime activity and on lots of other symptoms. One of the important advantages of CPAP-therapy is the lack of side effects.
Of course, sometimes in the beginning, as with any method of treatment, there could be side effects. Among the most frequent complaints, this might be irritation of the skin below the mask (about 50 percent ), dryness of the mucous membrane of the nose and pharynx (about 30%), nasal congestion or rhinorrhea (roughly 25%), eye irritation (about 25 percent ). However, these symptoms aren’t serious, they eventually disappear and do not interfere with the continuation of treatment.
Also, there are some recommendations how to eliminate these unpleasant effects in the treatment:
1. To use CPAP-therapy every day during the first 4-5 hours of sleep. During this time period, there’s the deepest dream and adverse effects from CPAP-therapy do not disturb the patient. Then in the other half of sleep when the dream becomes superficial and the mask or airflow starts to interfere, the mask can be removed and slept without it. It’s important to acknowledge that the positive impact of treatment – decreasing the intensity of snoring and decreasing the number of apnea episodes continues during the rest of the night.
2. To use CPAP-therapy with brief breaks for 1-2 days. It’s an intermittent use of CPAP-therapy. It is advised to use CPAP-therapy at least 70% of the nocturnal time. It’s strongly recommended if there is hypertension or other cardiovascular diseases. Also, CPAP-therapy ought to be performed if a significant dose of alcohol or a sleeping pill has been taken before sleeping.
Despite the presence of these minor side effects, CPAP-therapy is the most effective way of treating obstructive sleep apnea syndrome.
The use of CPAP-therapy has made a huge contribution to solving the issue of treatment of cardiovascular disorders and other diseases and has caused a dramatic improvement of the quality and prognosis of the humans’ life.
Where to buy CPAP Supplies Online?
CPAP supplies, like masks, tubes and machines can be bought online through Amazon or check out CPAP.com for specialized products.
Mandita has been a victim of OSA syndrome for several years, which caused her excess loud snoring. As this is a sleeping disorder that is not widely spoken about, she found it tough to find information to help her understand the symptoms and causes of the syndrome, as well as the treatments available.