Why are there so many different CPAP machines?!

If you have just been diagnosed with sleep apnea and have been told by your doctor you need to use CPAP, you may be feeling overwhelmed by many aspects of your new life with CPAP.  One challenge you may be facing is the decision about what kind of CPAP machine and mask you need to purchase. This post will help you understand the basics.

Basic CPAP

CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure and is the most basic type of positive airway pressure device available.  When you purchase your machine you need to know what pressure it needs to be set to (this is usually determined by a CPAP titration study) and that steady pressure will be applied each night while you sleep.  This type of therapy works very well in the treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), but may be difficult for some people to tolerate, especially when your pressure setting is high.  Enter the “auto”…

Auto PAP or APAP

Auto-adjusting positive airway pressure, or APAP, is the most popular type of PAP therapy.  It uses an algorithm to determine how much pressure you need at different stages of sleep.  For example, when you first fall asleep or when you are in a lighter sleep stage, your airway is not likely to need as much pressure to stay open.  When you are in a deeper sleep stage, your whole body will be much more relaxed and your airway will need the more pressure to stay open.  APAP tends to be much more comfortable and can help people who struggle with CPAP to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Advanced PAP Therapy (BiPAP, ASV etc)

For some people, sleep apnea can be more complex.  In patients with central sleep apnea, or complex sleep apnea for example, there may be certain points in the night when the brain isn’t communicating perfectly to your respiratory system.  This may lead to pauses in breath or irregular breath.  The treatment for more complex sleep disordered breathing is tailored to the specific issue that is occurring.


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