CPAP therapy is the most effective noninvasive treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. CPAP systems consist of several CPAP accessories: sleep apnea machines (flow generators), air tubing and a CPAP headgear (usually a nasal mask). The CPAP machine pushes air through the tubing and nasal mask.
The air passes through your nose and into the throat, where the slight pressure keeps the upper airway open. The low air pressure does not interfere with breathing though some sleep apnea patients need a few nights to get used to the sensation of positive airflow. Many clinicians describe this therapy as a pneumatic splint, literally means an air splint to hold an open throat.
The pneumatically splinted upper airway process is performed when the tongue and soft tissue have fallen to the back of the throat, but the pressure of the air pumped in by the CPAP machine holds the upper airway open.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome is a sleep disorder which characterized by obstruction of upper airways. Obstructive sleep apnea usually associated with a reduction in blood oxygen saturation. In this situation the airway becomes obstructed at several possible sites.
The upper airway can be obstructed by excess tissue in the airway, large tonsils and large tongue. It also includes the airway muscles relaxing and collapsing during sleep. Another site of obstruction can be the nasal passages.
A mask system includes the CPAP mask and the air tubing. Air tubing is fairly standard, but CPAP masks (or CPAP headgear) hold the most competitive portion of the CPAP accessories. There exists a much broader range of comfort levels in current CPAP headgear systems than in flow generators.
There are 2 basic kinds of CPAP masks:
Nasal CPAP masks for the majority of sleep apnea patients. These CPAP masks cover only the nose.
Full face CPAP masks designed for sleep apnea patients who breathe through their mouths, these CPAP masks cover the nose and mouth.
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