Millions of people suffer from sleep apnea. One common treatment is a breathing machine called a CPAP.  But does it really work?  Dr. Weiss explains how it works and when it is effective.

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that can be life-threatening. In this condition, breathing stops for 10 seconds or longer during sleep.  It’s also called “OSA” (obstructive sleep apnea) because it is caused by sleep induced loss of muscle tone resulting in relaxation and blocking or obstructing your airway when you’re sleeping.  The tongue can fall back and block the throat, or the throat muscles can collapse and narrow the opening to the trachea. This prevents you from breathing properly, which causes snoring and sleep loss.

CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. It’s a treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) that works by blowing pressurized air into your throat, keeping the air passages open so you can breathe normally during sleep.

The CPAP machine is connected to a mask that fits over your nose and mouth, or just over your nose. The mask has two parts: an air chamber and a cushion that seals against your skin. A tube connects the mask to the CPAP machine, which blows pressurized air through the chamber and into your throat every time you inhale.

The pressure keeps your throat open during sleep so you can breathe normally and not snore loudly or stop breathing altogether as often as people with sleep apnea do when they’re asleep. CPAP creates an artificial breathing cycle, so if you stop breathing briefly during the night, it will start again automatically with no effort on your part. The CPAP machine uses a sensor to detect when you stop breathing and then delivers additional air pressure until you resume normal breathing again. 

The bottom line is CPAP does work when people are willing to give it the good old-fashioned try, but there’s a lot involved with it. There is a mask that the individual wears, either over their nose and mouth, sometimes just their nose. Sometimes they’re just little prongs that go up inside the nostrils, which are much more comfortable, they’re called nasal pillows and the mask is then attached to a tube that’s connected to the device that’s delivering the air.

Does CPAP machine really work? So it can be a bit involved with the whole CPAP apparatus, but, CPAP has come a long way over the years. It used to be loud and it would bother the bed-mate.  But today’s modern CPAP devices are very quiet. In addition to the device being quiet – the individual stops snoring.  Both these features make their bed-mate very happy that they’re using the device. And the patient is usually very happy that they’re using the device because they feel better and are getting a full night’s sleep every night.