About Sleep Apnea and CPAP Machines

Sleep apnea creates severe problems for millions of adults across the U.S. Untreated sufferers often find it extremely difficult and occasionally impossible to get a full night’s rest due to constantly interrupted sleep. Breathing is constantly obstructed, leading to nights filled with unavoidable snoring and frustration. Beyond these inconveniences, research has shown that sleep apnea can also heighten the risk of the following conditions:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Insulin resistance
  • Heart disease
  • Liver disease

The continuous positive airway pressure machine, abbreviated as the CPAP, may be the most recognizable device used in treating sleep apnea patients. A CPAP machine is normally first acquired through a prescription from a doctor qualified as a sleep specialist. It acts as a ventilator, cycling a stream of clean air at a consistent pressure into a user’s breathing passages via a tube and a mask as the patient sleeps. A box intended to hold distilled water is heated within the device, providing humidity to protect the user’s airways from dryness and irritation. When tuned correctly, this machine can allow a patient to breathe far more easily through the night, reducing or altogether preventing the effects of the disorder.

Different types of masks are used for different cases, and wearing the wrong one can greatly reduce the treatment’s effectiveness. Some patients use lightweight masks that only cover the nose and require minimal supporting headgear, while others use masks fully covering the mouth and nose with multiple straps crossing the face. These masks are also available in varying sizes to account for differences in nasal and facial dimensions. A medical equipment specialist or physician can use a patient’s input to determine which mask might be the best fit.

Air leakage can also complicate a CPAP machine’s ability to perform. This can be due to badly adjusted headgear or component damage. Over time, the silicone liner present in a mask can become worn or torn by accident, causing disruptive and noisy leaks. A similar situation can arise from a torn hose. These disruptions in air pressure can severely impact the benefits a patient receives from his or her machine. Healthcare plans that cover CPAP machine purchases may account for the eventual need to replace these parts and allow patients to purchase replacement components from their providers, so a patient should consult with an insurer to confirm replacement coverage.