If you’ve been told that you need to use a CPAP machine to treat your sleep apnea, you might be wondering how a CPAP machine works. CPAP supplies and machines use pressurized air to treat snoring and sleep apnea, and special considerations may be required if you have central sleep apnea.
Since 1981, CPAP machines have been used to treat sleep apnea. Dr. Colin Sullivan was the first to recognize the potential benefit of a constant, pressurized airflow generated by his mother’s vacuum cleaner’s motor. Previously, sleep apnea was treated with a tracheostomy, which bypassed the collapse of the throat.
This article discusses sleep apnea machines, including CPAP’s history, and how it works.
1. How Does a CPAP Machine Work?
Modern CPAP machines operate on the same principles as Dr. Sullivan’s original devices. Pressures are now produced by smaller, quieter motors. Nonetheless, room air (not oxygen) is filtered and pressurized according to the settings prescribed by your sleep specialist.
Sleep apnea machines are programmed to deliver pressure ranging from 4 to 25 centimeters of water pressure (CWP). This air is frequently routed through a heated humidifier before being delivered to the mask interface via tubing. A cushion is formed along the upper airway by the constant flow of pressurized air. It has been described as a pneumatic (air) splint that prevents the throat from collapsing. The soft palate, uvula, and tongue are prevented from shifting into the airway as a result of this. It reduces the vibration that causes snoring to sound.
It may also help to reduce nasal swelling and clear mucus from the airway. As fragmented sleep resolves, breathing normalizes and sleep quality improves by supporting the airway. Oxygen levels can be kept constant. Sleep apnea has serious consequences that can be avoided. Automatic CPAP machines differ slightly in that they can detect an airway collapse by measuring resistance and respond by increasing pressure as needed during the night to further resolve sleep apnea. These devices will also test lower pressures and, if possible, adjust downward.