Studies have shown that the benefits of CPAP machines outweigh the drawbacks, and the benefits increase over time with long-term use. According to the National Sleep Foundation, most people who use CPAP machines report immediate symptom relief as well as improved mental alertness and energy the following day.
What are the pros and cons of CPAP machines?
- Improved sleep cycles
- Reduced daytime sleepiness and fatigue
- Lowered risk of complications of sleep apnea, such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes
- Wide variety of machines available, based on your budget and severity of your condition
- Reduced medical costs in the long run
Cons of using these devices may include:
- Discomfort while using the machine, especially in the beginning
- Nasal congestion
- Dry mouth (since air is pushed into the mouth through the machine)
- Eye irritation (due to increased air pressure)
- Skin irritation (where the mask attaches to the face)
- Bloating and gas
- Feeling of claustrophobia
- Partners complaining of CPAP machine noise
While many of these side effects can be annoying, they can usually be controlled by adjusting pressure settings on the CPAP machine.
How does a CPAP machine help with sleep apnea?
People suffering from sleep apnea often suffer from breathing difficulties, stopping breathing for more than 10 seconds periodically throughout the night. This disruption in the sleep cycle can lead to sleep deprivation, which in turn can lead to serious health problems.
CPAP machines can help normalize breathing and maintain oxygen levels during sleep. This reduces snoring, eases swelling inside the nose, and clears mucus from the airway, thus promoting better quality sleep.
CPAP machines include a mask that covers your nose and mouth, helping you breathe by increasing atmospheric pressure within the throat to stop the airway from collapsing as you inhale. By providing constant air flow, this provides a sort of barrier that prevents your throat from closing up. This mechanism also stops the tongue, uvula, and soft palate from blocking the airway.
Depending on the severity of your condition, your doctor may determine the CPAP airflow pressure settings. The machine has filters and is designed to use pressurized air from the room, which it delivers into the mask via tubes that connect to the unit. Ambient air enters through a filter and is pressurized. After it passes through a fitted, heated humidifier it is delivered to the mask through the tubing.
People diagnosed with sleep apnea often need CPAP therapy continuously throughout their lives. And since machines are not one-size-fits-all, and finding a CPAP mask that fits and feels comfortable could take a while. It’s important to talk to your doctor to determine which model is best for you.
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McCrimmon KK. Overnight Cure for Poor Sleep: The Benefits of CPAP. UCHealth. https://www.uchealth.org/today/benefits-of-cpap-for-sleep-apnea/
American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Sleep Education. https://sleepeducation.org/patients/cpap/