A CPAP Mask Dramatically Improves Life for Sleep Apnea Sufferers

by Derrick Rexford on March 29, 2010

A CPAP mask is one of the best ways that science has developed for dealing with the frustrating and challenging problem of sleep apnea. CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure, which is what the mask provides to users. Sufferers of sleep apnea experience arousal from sleep when the upper airway becomes narrow as the muscles relax naturally during sleep, reducing the amount of oxygen in the blood. People who have obstructive sleep apnea generally suffer from constant fatigue, difficulty focusing and irritability. When left untreated this condition can result in high blood pressure, diabetes and even a stroke. Sleep apnea is a very serious condition and if you suspect that you may have it, you should get it checked out by a physician as soon as possible to minimize potential health hazards.

People who have been diagnosed with sleep apnea have several avenues of assistance available to them. The most basic sort of help for the obstructive sleep apnea sufferer is CPAP therapy. In CPAP therapy, air pressure travels through a tube and into a mask which flows into the nasal passages of the sufferer. The steam of compressed air opens up the airway and keeps it open so that unobstructed breathing becomes possible. It is the air pressure in the mask and not the movement of the air that keeps the passageway open. The air enters the nose because the sleeper is wearing a CPAP mask. This mask is attached very tightly to the face so that a seal is created and the air does not come out. The pressure is applied to the air at a prescribed rate, usually arrived at by a physician who has observed the apnea sufferer during an overnight sleep study. The pressure is continuous throughout the night and must be maintained. For many patients this therapy is helpful immediately, and sufferers notice a difference after one night of sleep. For others the process takes longer but using the therapy is almost always very helpful.

With regard to the actual masks worn by those undergoing CPAP therapy there are a variety of different options. There are nasal masks, full face masks, nasal pillows and nasal prongs. To find out which of these masks is the right fit for you, you will probably want to consult your physician. People whose mouths drop open during sleep will often find the full face mask to be the best option because it delivers air pressure through nasal and oral passages. For those who may feel claustrophobic or too confined when wearing a full face mask, it is better to get a nasal pillow mask. Nasal pillow masks do not have anything that fully covers the face or passes underneath the bridge of the nose. It is simpler to get the face sealed off from the outside with this method, simply because there is less that needs to be adjusted.

To select the perfect CPAP mask may take some trial and error. Physicians all say that the ideal mask is the one that you can barely tell that you are wearing. You may find that you like a full face mask or a simple nasal prong mask best. Often you will need to adjust things about your sleep ritual such as the kind of pillows you use and beginning to sleep on your side. Sleeping on your back increases the troubles that sleep apnea causes, so it is always recommended that you do whatever you need to sleep on your side. Either way, using one of these masks is the best way to treat and possibly cure your obstructive sleep apnea.

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