why do you need a cpap machine

Huffington Post is proud to partner with the American Sleep Association (ASA) to promote sleep awareness. If you've been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), there is a good chance your doctor wants you to wear a
machine. Anybody that has one knows they can be a bit challenging. Some are bulky and not exactly the most attractive piece of equipment taking up space in the bedroom. It's easy for some people to ignore these machines and not wear them. But wearing a CPAP machine when you have sleep apnea doesn't just give you better quality sleep; it may save your life. When you have obstructive sleep apnea, obstructions in your airway cause periods of apnea, which means there are long pauses in breathing, sometimes for many seconds at a time throughout the night. CPAP machines are the most popular treatment for OSA. CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. A patient with OSA may wear a CPAP machine with a mask that fits just over the nose, or both the nose and mouth. The mask applies continuous pressure into the airway, keeping the airway open and stopping obstruction. Why Use CPAP? If you have OSA and are supposed to wear a CPAP machine, skipping out on it may not seem like a big deal, but there is a good chance not wearing it will lead to more serious health conditions. When you have periods of apnea, blood oxygen levels decrease making your heart work extra hard to pump oxygen through the body. This causes your heart rate and blood pressure to both elevate, putting added stress on the heart. Risks of Untreated Sleep Apnea Studies show many people with OSA have hypertension, which is high blood pressure.

This happens when the force of blood being pushed through the arteries is high. If not controlled, hypertension causes damage to the heart and vessels, and you are at risk for even more serious conditions. If untreated, sleep apnea may lead to congestive heart failure (CHF). CHF happens when your heart does not pump out enough oxygenated blood to the body. Fluid then builds up elsewhere in the body including ankles, legs, and lungs, making it hard to breathe. OSA may lead to heart arrhythmias including atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation is a quivering, irregular, and many times rapid heartbeat. Periods of apnea with an irregular heartbeat could even lead to sudden death. OSA can also lead to coronary artery disease (CAD). With CAD, a plaque is built up in the walls of arteries, making them narrow, causing restricted blood flow to the heart. This can lead to heart attack, and also may lead to premature death. There is also a risk of stroke. The effects of stroke can be severe disability or death, and people with OSA may have a more difficult time recovering from any effects. In any case, oxygen is important for the heart. Lack of oxygen, even during sleep puts too much pressure on your cardiovascular system, and eventually it can weaken. Even if you do not currently suffer from any of these conditions, there are still good reasons to treat your sleep apnea and wear your CPAP machine. During apnea, not only are blood oxygen levels low, but carbon dioxide in the blood becomes elevated. This can cause headaches, memory loss, fatigue, and may even make you more dangerous behind the wheel.

The continuous pressure from your CPAP will keep your airway open so you can breathe. This way blood oxygen levels stay where they should, and carbon dioxide levels don't get too high. There may be other CPAP alternatives for treating your sleep apnea, so discuss it with your doctor if you have concerns. But if your doctor recommends a CPAP machine, wear it. It can save your life. Authors: Kristina Diaz, RRT Kristina Diaz, RRT is a Registered Respiratory Therapist and a health and wellness enthusiast and writer. The primary mission of the (ASA) is to improve public health by increasing awareness about the importance of sleep and the dangers of sleep disorders. ASA was founded in 2002 by sleep professionals as a member-driven public awareness effort. The article was originally posted at Different treatments can help you breathe easier if you have sleep apnea. Itвs a simple question, but it has a complex answer. Thereвs no one-size-fits-all remedy for вa potentially life-threatening condition in which a sleeper periodically stops breathing for several seconds at a time and then resumes breathing, often with a loud snort. If youвve been diagnosed with sleep apnea, your doctor is likely to treat it based on the severity of your condition. For mild sleep apnea, treatment options include: В Avoiding Sedatives: Drinking alcohol or taking medications that make you sleepy can cause the tissues in your mouth and throat to relax too much, making it harder for your airway to stay open while you sleep.

Steering clear of these substances may help you breathe better as you catch your zzz s. Losing Weight: If youвre overweight or obese, dropping even a small amount of weight may ease your symptoms by reducing pressure on your airway. Sleeping on Your Side: Using pillows to prop yourself on your side or wearing a nightshirt with a tennis ball stuffed in a sock and pinned to the back of the shirt В can prevent you from lying on your back and help keep your airway open while you snooze. (When you lie on your back, the base of your tongue and soft palate collapse against the back wall of your throat; this doesnвt happen if you sleep on your side. ) Unclogging Your Nasal Passages: If your nose tends to get stuffy at night, ask your doctor if taking an antihistamine or decongestant or using a nasal spray might help keep your nasal passages open. For moderate to severe sleep apnea, treatment options include: Using a CPAP Machine: To keep your airway open while you sleep, a (short for: continuous positive airway pressure) at your bedside blows pressurized air into a mask thatвs worn over your mouth and nose. Wearing a Dental Device: A custom-made mouth guard from your dentist can reposition your lower jaw. The device pulls your lower jaw slightly forward, which helps open your airway while you sleep. Having Surgery: In some cases, surgical proceduresвto trim excess tissue in the mouth or throat or to correct an anatomical abnormalityвcan increase the size of your airway, so that you can breathe more easily while you sleep.

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