How does a CPAP machine help a sleep apnea condition?

CPAP (it stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) is the primary treatment option for sleep apnea.

"CPAP is the mainstay treatment for sleep apnea," says Paul Sweeney, President of Coastal Sleep, a sleep clinic offering help to sleep apnea sufferers at six locations in the Lower Mainland. "Over 75 percent of patients are successful at learning to wear it. The machine can be a game-changer for the sleep apnea sufferer."

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A mask is worn over the nose and it blows air pressure into the throat. The air pressure keeps the tongue from collapsing and blocking the airway. Coastal Sleep offers a number of different styles of masks, including masks specifically for women.

Education around the wearing of the mask is key and the Registered Respiratory Therapists (RRT) and nurses at Coastal Sleep take the time to make sure patients understand the mask and its benefits.

"We believe in educating our patients about their condition and about CPAP," Paul explains. "Once they're used to wearing it, they see the benefits. They have more energy, are more focused, and enjoy life more."

While sleep apnea is a long-term chronic condition, the CPAP machine can offer relief from sleep-apnea-related symptoms such as tiredness and headaches, and lower the risk of other medical issues occurring.

For a small percentage of patients, however, wearing the CPAP mask may not be a viable option.

"A small number of patients have medical issues that prevent them from wearing the CPAP mask," Paul says. "And an even smaller number may not be responsive to the treatment. In those cases, if the patient has mild-to-moderate sleep apnea, a secondary treatment option is an oral appliance that pulls the jaw forward."

Coastal Sleep works with a dentist in a multi-disciplinary approach when fitting a patient for an oral appliance, though Paul notes that some patients find that moving the jaw forward for an extended period of time can affect the bite.

"We recommend that patients start with the CPAP," Paul says. "We offer a complimentary trial to ensure a good fit and to make sure that it provides the relief they’re looking for. With an oral device, the patient would need to purchase it immediately."

A third option is surgery. While an operation, involving the removal of tonsils or redundant tissue in the throat, can be successful in children or young adults, it has a lesser effect on older patients, says Paul.

For more information about the different CPAP masks available in the Delta/Surrey area, call Coastal Sleep at 1.877.241.9066, visit their website or send them an email. There is a Coastal Sleep facility located at 602-13737 96th Avenue, Surrey. Coastal Sleep can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

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