Relations Between Lung Volume, OSA, And CPAP Therapy
In recent years, researchers have been studying the correlation between lung volume, OSA, and CPAP therapy. While CPAP therapy seems by most accounts to play a positive role in lung volume, just how much and in what specific ways remains to reveal fully.
What Is Lung Volume?
Lung volume is also known as respiratory volume. It refers to the volume of gas in the lungs at a given time during the respiratory cycle. Lung capacities are derived from a summation of different lung volumes. The average total lung capacity of an adult human male is about 6 liters of air.
Does Obstructive Sleep Apnea Affect Lung Volume?
Patients with obstructive sleep apnea tend to put greater demand on the lungs, thus require greater lung volume. Research published in BMC Pulmonary Medicine found that patients with OSA had increased lung elasticity recoil pressure. The elastic quality of lung tissues is what allows them to expand and contract when you breathe. With increased lung elasticity recoil pressure, the lungs snap back too forcefully.
How Is Lung Volume Related to CPAP Use?
Because CPAP therapy opens up the airway while you sleep, it reduces the stress and demand for air on the lungs. Lung volume can return to a normal breathing demand with the help of a CPAP machine. With improved lung volume, lung tissue elasticity can return to normal as well with continued use of CPAP therapy.
Studies That Relate Lung Volume, OSA, And CPAP Therapy
Currently, however, there are few if any studies that look specifically at lung volumes in each of the various groups. This includes looking at non-obese patients with and without OSA exclusively or studies that look at obese patients with and without OSA exclusively.
Still, other studies that looked at the effects of manipulating lung volume via various means also looked at the effects of CPAP therapy via a CPAP machine. Although the studies showed that increasing lung volume decreased the need for a CPAP machine, the various methods used to manipulate lung volume are impractical in normal sleep settings.
According to the study in question, researchers hypothesized that CPAP and proper use of a sleep apnea machine act as a pneumatic “splint,” that prevents upper airway collapse while also increasing lung volume. However, researchers concluded that more studies must be done regarding the efficacy of the effect on increased lung volume while using a CPAP machine.
In fact, these findings remain controversial and in opposition to other studies. What all researchers seem to agree on is that lung volume plays an important role in upper airway collapsibility in OSA patients, and that role will likely have a direct impact on how CPAP therapy works in conjunction with lung volume to provide relief for millions of people.
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