Sleep Apnea Device and Mask

Danyelle R., National University

Not being able to breathe is a frightening thing. Have you ever dove into the water and tried to hold your breath as long as you can? At some point your lungs begin to burn and you desperately want to gasp for breath. The invention of continuous positive airway pressure
, orCPAP, has created a way to help those that find breathing while asleep just as difficult as holding your breath underwater. It is used for everyone from infants to the elderly, to those that snore or quit breathing. As people continue to find a need for CPAP there are advances in comfort and design to make it easier and easier to use.

When an infant is born premature their lungs are often not fully developed. This was the case for my 5 week early daughter. The protocol used before CPAP was steroid injections which have side effects. With the CPAP they could place a mask over her face and help her airways open and maintain airflow. This is an incredible benefit for weakened babies to develop the strength to breathe. CPAP can also be used on older patients who struggle with an illness or conditions that prevent them from breathing at 100% on their own. My father is a polio survivor who had damage done to his throat and lungs. His nightly CPAP makes sure to keep him breathing.

The most common use of CPAP is for those who have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is caused when the airway partially or fully closes while the patient is sleeping. This can be diagnosed by performing a sleep study. Many realize there is an issue with their sleep when they begin waking their family members with their snoring. They may notice that they are tired all the time, have headaches, or have restless sleep. After complaining that my father­in­law snores all the time, my mother-­in -law reluctantly agreed to have a sleep study so that he would have one as well. That’s when it was found that she stops breathing several times a night. After getting her CPAP she found that she no longer woke up with migraines and had an improved mood throughout the day.

The biggest complaint you hear about CPAP is the way the mask
feels and the sound. As technology advances they become more comfortable, quieter, and smaller. I recently spoke to a Doctor about the excuses she’s heard about people not using their CPAP and she made some interesting observations. She explained that people often have similar complaints when they begin a new medication. “I can’t remember to use it.” “It makes me feel weird.” There is no excuse for putting your life at risk. There are different masks, straps
, and machines that can be tried until the perfect fit is reached.

Getting a good night’s sleep is imperative to living a vibrant and energetic life. We know that we need oxygen to live, but do we realize when we’re not getting enough of it? With the technology of CPAP we have access to a machine that can help us obtain and maintain healthy oxygen levels. Babies can receive the life saving treatments they need, while those with sleep apnea can stop snoring. For many people CPAP is not just a machine, it is life preserver that will hold their head out of the water.

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