Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy opens the airways by continuously pushing air through a mask. The blown air keeps the upper airway open and eliminates hypopneas or apneas (decreased or stopped breathing) and snoring. For the treatment to be effective, the device must be used every day, for the duration of sleep.
There are three types of CPAP therapy:
Fixed: The device delivers fixed, continuous positive pressure.
Automatic: The device delivers positive pressure that varies automatically according to respiratory events during the night.
Bi-level (BiPAP): The device delivers two levels of pressure: one for inhalation, the other for exhalation. It is used to treat more complex cases of apnea or for patients who have difficulty adapting to fixed or automatic therapy.
Who benefits from this therapy?
Continuous positive airway pressure is considered the best treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. It is the most commonly used method of treating apnea, including moderate to severe cases.
People who suffer from apnea must give themselves time to adapt to their therapy. After a few nights, patients usually begin to feel the benefits of the treatment. The therapy becomes more and more comfortable and patients gradually regain their energy level to the point where they do not want to do without it.
There are many accessories and tools that improve comfort and promote treatment compliance. CPAP therapy is generally well tolerated, but to increase your chances of success, it is recommended that you receive professional care during the process.
Do I need a prescription?
Only a doctor can prescribe this treatment after a diagnosis of sleep apnea has been confirmed by an appropriate examination. The doctor will recommend the type of treatment best suited to your condition (i.e., fixed, automatic or bi-level) and perform a follow-up to make sure that any apneas and hypopneas are appropriately corrected.
What equipment is required?
The equipment used for CPAP therapy includes two main components: the breathing apparatus and the mask. Various accessories are then added based on the patient’s needs.
The device, which varies according to the type of treatment (fixed, automatic or bi-level), is equipped with a humidifier, tubing and filters.
A well-fitting and comfortable mask is the key to successful CPAP therapy. There are several types of masks (nasal pillows, nasal, full face) that are adapted to different breathing habits. For example, a nasal pillows mask will be more suitable for people who want a more minimalist mask, while full face masks are for people who breathe through their mouth. It is preferable to be guided when selecting your mask to ensure that it suits your morphology and needs.