Chances are very high that a patient, diagnosed with sleep apnea for the first time is recommended CPAP therapy, where CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Air Pressure. This is because CPAP therapy is regarded as one of the most effective and goal-oriented treatment approaches for the management of mild to moderate sleep apnea. Even the American Sleep Apnea Association endorses this view.
What is CPAP therapy?
The primary aim of this therapy is to keep the airway open for the patient to breathe as normally as possible during sleep. Collapsing and blockage of the upper respiratory tract cause unimaginable trauma and distress to the sleep apnea patient by way of recurrent pauses in breathing and depending on the severity the patient can stop breathing 5 to 30 times in an hour.
The CPAP therapy is essentially a process of providing artificial ventilation to help the patient cope better with breathlessness during sleep. It does so by pumping in pre-set pressurized air into the lungs on a continuous basis so that the airway never collapses during sleep. The CPAP therapy consists of a set of CPAP equipment, the individual components of which are:
• The pressurized air generating device
• CPAP masks, worn on the nose, mouth or both, act as conduits for carrying the pressurized air from the device to the lungs.
• Hoses that transport the air. CPAP Machines
Role of CPAP masks in the therapy
Though each component has its separate role in the entire procedure, the CPAP mask perhaps is the most important item in the entire set of equipment.
To understand why CPAP masks can be the sole deciding factor to continue with the CPAP therapy, we need to appreciate that delivering the required amount of pressurized air is critical to the therapy success. Any air leakage, which can only happen at the level of the masks, can completely ruin the chances of the therapy delivering results.
It is also very important that the user is completely at ease wearing the mask, or else, discontinuation of therapy is imminent.
What is a CPAP mask?
A CPAP mask is usually triangular in shape to fit the contours of the face. It is made of silicone or soft plastic to offer maximum comfort to the user. It can be worn over the nose, mouth or both, depending on the sleeping patterns and breathing habits of the user. For example, some users are mouth breathers – for them, the full face mask could be the ideal choice. Similarly, the mask could also be worn according to the way the user sleeps – whether on the back or on the sides.
For people who are allergic to plastic or silicone, there are gel masks available that are made from gelatin combined with plastic. These masks should be pre-heated and molded in line with the contours of the face for a snug fit.
There are several types of CPAP masks including the nose mask, full face mask and the nose-face mask. All these masks serve a specific need of the user, in terms of adding to comfort of use and complementing the sleeping and breathing patterns.