8 Common Misconceptions Around CPAP for Sleep Apnea
CPAP therapy is one of the most effective non-invasive ways of managing Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). But despite its effectiveness, a lot of people have second thoughts about starting CPAP therapy. And this is largely due to a lot of popular myths floating around about this mode of treatment.
But it’s time to bust those myths and truly understand the CPAP therapy, so more people start adopting it and experience improved sleep quality.
Here are 8 common misconceptions around CPAP therapy for sleep apnea, and the truth about them:
- All CPAP machines are the same
- Fixed CPAP: Maintains a pre-set level of air pressure throughout the night
- Automatic CPAP: Flexibly adjusts the level of air pressure by sensing body conditions, like lowering the pressure if you are breathing easily on any particular night, or increasing the air pressure if you are experiencing nasal congestion.
- BiPAP: These machines offer two different pressure levels, a higher iPAP while inhaling and a lower EPAP while exhaling.
Yes, all CPAP machines work on the principle of maintaining a continuous flow of air pressure to keep the airway from collapsing during sleep. This is what allows you to breathe normally and not have apnea episodes that wake up your brain at periodic intervals.
However, there are different types of CPAP machines that you can choose from, or will be recommended to you based on your requirements:
There are also portable CPAP machines like the ResMed AirMini, that is light and easy to carry and use while on the road. There are also devices that can be controlled and managed with associated mobile apps for easy usage.
- You don’t need to use the CPAP device every night
OSA is caused because the muscles in your airway close down during sleep, cutting off oxygen supply to your brain. Your brain jerks awake to send signals to your body to open up the airway, thus causing disrupted sleep throughout the night.
The collapse of the muscles cannot be fixed permanently without surgery. So if you are not opting for a surgical option, the only other way is to ‘manage’ your OSA using a non-invasive procedure like CPAP therapy. The continuous flow of air is what keeps your airway open. Any night when you choose to not use the device, your airway will go back to the collapsed stated. This is result is repeated apneas and disturbed sleep.
So you actually have to use the CPAP device every night.
- You can discontinue CPAP therapy after some time
Some believe that continuous use of CPAP device for a long period will cure the problem and, so they can stop using it as soon as they feel relieved. However, as discussed above, CPAP only manages the root cause of OSA, but doe no ‘cure’ it. So it is always advisable to consult your physician/sleep coach before stopping to use the CPAP machine, even after decreased severity in symptoms.
- If I lose weight I won’t have to use CPAP anymore
It is true that weight loss reduces the severity of the sleep apnea symptoms. There are also cases where doctors have recommended stopping CPAP therapy after a dramatic weight loss, as it was no longer necessary.
However, if you achieve your set weight loss goals, of involuntarily experience weight loss due to other illnesses, you should not stop using the CPAP device. The best course of action would be to consult your doctor/sleep coach to assess the status of your OSA, so they can recommend lower pressure settings on your device, or advise you to stop therapy altogether.
- CPAP can cause infections
One common side effect of CPAP therapy, especially felt in the early days of usage, is dry or stuffy nose while using the CPAP device. This leads many people to believe that prolonged use of the device can cause sinus infections.
However, the truth is that the infection is usually caused by viruses or bacteria and not the CPAP machine. Though, there are chances that it might aggravate a sinus infection.
- CPAP machine might suffocate me in cases of power-cuts
CPAP devices consist of exhalation ports to avoid any such circumstances, and so this fear can be ruled out, while using your CPAP device.
- Discomfort of using a CPAP device will prevent me further from sleeping
The comfort features in the CPAP device can help customize the settings to ensure a comfortable sleep. The latest generation devices are quiet and unobtrusive, masks are designed to a high degree of comfort. Yes, it does take some time to get used to sleeping with a CPAP device. But the improvement in sleep quality and energy levels with prolonged CPAP therapy makes it worthwhile.
- Using a CPAP mask makes me look unattractive
A lot of people feel that wearing a CPAP mask to bed indicates old age, makes others perceive them as unattractive. However, CPAP therapy might actually be making you look more attractive!
A 2013 study from the University of Michigan4 took before and after pictures of 20 students undergoing CPAP therapy. When these pictures were shown to a random set of people, they said that the students’ after therapy photos actually made them look well rested, energetic, and youthful.
So there you go, a quick fact check on everything you might have heard about CPAP therapy. Using a CPAP device will give you the best sleep you have had in a long time. And with ResMed, you can take a CPAP Trial for 2-weeks before starting the CPAP therapy, and see for yourself how effective it is.