Continuous positive airway pressure

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(Redirected from CPAP)

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is a method of respiratory ventilation used primarily in the treatment of sleep apnea and various lung diseases. CPAP ventilation can also be used during the "weaning off" period of a ventilated intensive care patient, but this will not be covered in this article.

A device called a CPAP machine, which is basically a pump, is used to pass a controlled stream of air into the airway of the sleeping patient, splinting the airway (keeping it open under air pressure) so that unobstructed breathing becomes possible, reducing and/or preventing apneas and hypopneas.

CPAP treatment is highly effective in treating obstructive sleep apnea, although sometimes only partial improvement results. The other recognised type of sleep apnea (caused by central apnea) cannot be treated using CPAP.

Prospective CPAP candidates are often reluctant to use this therapy, since the face mask and hose to the machine looks uncomfortable and clumsy, and the airflow required for some patients can be vigorous. Some patients adjust to the treatment within a few weeks, others struggle for longer periods. This is usually directly in proportion to the amount of support they are given from their DME (Durable Medical Equipment) Provider, or how much support they seek out on their own. The improvement in the quality of sleep due to CPAP treatment will often be noticed after a single night's use.

The latest CPAP machines are smaller, lighter, and much less noisy than older versions. Few airport inspectors have not seen the portable machines, so travel with them is not a problem. Air humidifiers and supplementary oxygen can be easily added to the input port of most CPAP machines, and some versions can also adapt to patient needs by monitoring patient breathing patterns.

CPAP machines are only available by prescription. A sleep study at an accredited sleep lab is usually necessary before treatment can start. This is because the pressure settings on the CPAP machine must be tailored to a patient's treatment needs. A doctor, often an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist, will interpret the results from the initial sleep study and estimate the correct pressure from experience. This is later confirmed with a follow up sleep study during which the patient wears the CPAP mask and pressure is adjusted up and down from the prescribed setting to find the optimal setting.

CPAP machines are available at large discounts online. Usually the online retailers will be able to work with insurance providers, Medicare or Medicaid. In some locations a government program, separate from Medicare, can be used to claim a reimbursement for all or part of the cost of the CPAP device.

External links

  • There are many people willing to help new Patients adjust to the CPAP on the USENET at alt.support.sleep-disorder.
  • CPAP Machines (http://www.apneatherapy.com)
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