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What is a CPAP?

A:

Quick Answer

Continuous positive airway pressure therapy provides help for individuals with obstructive sleep apnea. The therapy involves the use of a machine that prevents collapse of the throat by forcing air through the passage. CPAP is the most effective option for individuals with sleep apnea, other than surgery, according to WebMD.

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The CPAP machine attaches to the face using a mask. The most common mask covers the nose, but other options include a mask that covers the mouth and nose or has prongs that insert into the nose. WebMD indicates the therapy works best when used each night during sleep.

CPAP helps to reduce snoring in individuals with obstructive sleep apnea and allows family members to enjoy better sleep at night. Because it improves the quality of night time sleep for the user, it helps to relieve daytime sleepiness. Eliminating obstructive sleep apnea also reduces blood pressure, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Adjusting to using a CPAP device is sometimes difficult for the patient. Claustrophobic feelings when wearing the mask, removing the mask while sleeping and difficulty falling asleep when wearing the mask are common complaints. Most of these problems resolve themselves over time, according to Mayo Clinic. If problems persist, patients are advised to work with the CPAP supplier and their doctor to make the necessary adjustments.

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