Getting diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and beginning therapy with a continuous positive airway pressure machine (CPAP) prescription can require changes to your bedtime routine. There is plenty of information available to new to CPAP therapy. However, there are also many CPAP myths and misconceptions floating around.
Dispelling CPAP Myths Makes Therapy Easier
In the first installment of our Sleep and OSA myth series, we will discuss some myths about CPAP therapy, the most often prescribed treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea occurs when the muscles of the throat relax and close the airway. This jolts the sleeper awake frequently throughout the night. Most often, the sleeper is not even being aware that it is happening. It is a dangerous condition that when left untreated can create all sorts of health issues. OSA affects approximately 25 million Americans. Additionally, it is associated with serious daytime drowsiness and also has been linked to a variety of chronic health problems.
1. CPAP Myth: All CPAP machines are the same
Auto CPAP machines adjust pressure breath by breath, while fixed CPAP machines deliver a steady pressure (which might be difficult getting used to given your pressure setting, especially when they try to fall asleep or during exhalation). If you have a fixed pressure machine, use the ramp feature which gradually increases pressure as you fall asleep. The auto adjusting CPAP changes pressure on a breath to breath basis. This provides a more natural sleep experience. Bi-Level(or commonly known as BiPAP) machines have two pressure settings (iPAP, a higher pressure while inhaling, and EPAP a lower pressure for exhaling.) Newer machines come with remote monitoring software reporting, are lighter, quieter, and smaller.
2. CPAP Myth: You don’t have to use your CPAP machine every night
Sure, using a CPAP machine will require some changes to your pre-bed regiment. But, it’s necessary to use your CPAP consistently to maintain a good, healthy sleep routine. Getting a good night’s sleep is important every night, and so is using the CPAP therapy. Travel CPAP machines and battery backups help to keep people using their equipment even when they are not at home or when the power is out.
3. CPAP Myth: If I lose weight I won’t have to use CPAP anymore
It has been proven that losing weight reduces the severity of sleep apnea symptoms and in some cases people have been able to stop using the machine after dramatic weight reduction. If that happens, doctors recommend a sleep study after weight loss so that a doctor can adjust the machine to lower pressure settings or to eliminate the CPAP therapy all together.
4. CPAP Myth: Problems like dry mouth cannot be corrected
One of the most frequent issues people who start CPAP encounter is dry mouth or xerostomia. It typically occurs because the CPAP’s pressure dries out the throat and nasal cavities or because the person is using the wrong mask style and sleeping with an open mouth. Xerostomia should be addressed because it can cause bad breath and cavities. Fortunately there are several options to help with dry mouth. One is to use a chinstrap if the problem stems from sleeping with an open mouth and you want to use a nasal style CPAP mask. Another important fix would be to use a humidifier which provides moisture to alleviate the effects of pressurized air.
5. CPAP Myth: CPAP will ruin your sex life
This could not be farther from the truth! In fact, it has the opposite impact. Recent studies have shown that not only are most bed partners very supportive of CPAP therapy, untreated OSA is much more detrimental to sex than using a CPAP and getting a better night’s sleep. In a recent study, 88% of participant’s surveyed said that regular use of CPAP improved overall sexual satisfaction. The CPAP machine almost always improves the sleep of the bed partner because the user ceases excessive snoring while using the machine. Better sleep equates to better performance!
At The CPAP Shop we have been assisting people to select CPAP equipment online for the past 13 years. We ship most CPAP equipment the same day, and all our equipment is brand new. We have over 100,000 satisfied customers and we often write about CPAP, sleep and healthy lifestyles in our blog and resource sections