Sleep apnea is more than just excessive snoring. It’s a potentially serious condition that affects 22 million Americans. When a person has sleep apnea, their breathing continually stops and starts throughout the night, either because of relaxed throat muscles blocking the airway or because their brain isn’t sending the right signals to their muscles. If you have sleep apnea, you may notice headaches when you wake up, insomnia, tiredness throughout the day, irritability, or similar issues. A commonly prescribed method to minimize sleep apnea is a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device. However, sometimes sleep apnea patients struggle with the transition to a CPAP machine. To make the operation of your machine easier and more comfortable, here are some CPAP accessories to consider.
Nasal Pillow Mask
Usually, when you look up CPAP masks, you’ll see examples of both full-face and nasal masks. These both have plenty of benefits for different people, but you might find both of them uncomfortable or unwieldy. Because of that, you don’t get the good night’s sleep you expected when you were prescribed your CPAP machine. To correct this consider a nasal pillow mask.
This mask is actually just a small cushion that seals just at the nostrils, pumping air directly into the nose. This type of mask is good for those that like to fall asleep reading or watching television in bed. The mask won’t obstruct your vision like the larger masks can. Additionally, if you experience claustrophobia from larger masks, this smaller option can help mitigate that feeling of fear. Finally, facial hair can stop full-face or nasal masks from sealing correctly against your face. Excessively leaking air can prevent the CPAP machine from working as well as it should, and it can also lead to a dry nose or eyes.
With that said, if you breathe mostly through your mouth in your sleep or if you use a very high air pressure, the nasal pillow mask may not be your best option.
It often seems like the only way to utilize a CPAP machine is to sleep on your back at all times. If you turn your head, the pillow pushes the mask away from your nose and mouth. This can be especially uncomfortable for those who sleep on their side or stomach, and it can make the transition to using a CPAP machine more difficult. However, you can minimize this situation through the use of a CPAP pillow.
This is a hypoallergenic piece of bedding made of ventilated memory foam. Some of these pillows can be height adjusted for comfort. They are shaped to be more comfortable to sleep on in your mask and also contain a tether to prevent the CPAP hose from thrashing about as you move.
Traveling with a full-size CPAP machine is cumbersome. However, you don’t want to go on vacation only to be drowsy and irritable every day. You can make it easier on yourself by purchasing a travel version of the device. These are smaller, lightweight devices with the same power as a standard machine and features that make them easily portable. They also tend to have multiple power options. You can plug them into your car or let them run off a charged battery. In the end, if it works as well for you as your regular device, the travel CPAP could even become your regular machine at home.
BiPAP is a two-level airway device. One pressure is established when you inhale. As you exhale a lower pressure is established. As a result, you experience a near-normal breathing experience rather than the continual high pressure you experience with a CPAP machine.
CPAP machines and BiPAP machines look very similar, and they’re both used to help treat sleep apnea. The difference usually comes in which conditions they help treat. Your doctor will usually prescribe a CPAP machine if you have obstructive sleep apnea, which is when your relaxed throat muscles block your airways. However, if you have central sleep apnea or complex sleep apnea, which is a combination of both obstructive and central sleep apnea, your doctor may instead recommend a BiPAP machine.
CPAP machines are primarily used for sleep apnea while BiPAP machines can be used for a variety of conditions. They are even used in hospitals to help patients who need help breathing. This is often the preferred and less invasive alternative to intubation. A CPAP machine will often be less expensive than a BiPAP machine.
Some components of your CPAP machine will start to fail at some point. Rather than waiting for this to happen, you should consider purchasing a part bundle. This could either be through the machine’s manufacturer or from a vendor that sells generic replacement parts. The bundle should contain filters and tubes as well as a water chamber if your machine has a removable water chamber. These parts should all be easy to detach and reattach. If some of these parts are not, your machine may need to be professionally repaired.
A CPAP machine could quite literally save your life. However, if using your CPAP machine is too uncomfortable, you may end up forgoing it. To prevent that, consider the CPAP accessories above to make using the device easier and more comfortable. It will allow you to get a night of more restful sleep and feel energetic the next day. You can also talk to your doctor about other tips for transitioning to using your new CPAP machine.