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What is a CPAP Machine?

January 31, 2022
What is a CPAP Machine?

A continuous positive airways pressure (CPAP) machine is a device used to help treat people with sleep apnoea disorders. A CPAP machine is used to provide a continuous stream of air into the lungs, assisting users to breathe normally which in turn helps to prevent disrupted sleep due to the sleeping disorder. While CPAP machines may seem complicated, in this blog, we’re taking a closer look at CPAP machines, why are they used, how they work and who can benefit from one.

Who can use a CPAP machine?

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) is the most common type of sleeping disorder diagnosed. With this sleeping disorder, the throat muscles in the back of your throat, which should usually relax while you sleep, collapse too much and don’t allow enough oxygen to reach your lungs. When the brain senses that there isn’t enough oxygen getting to your lungs, it will cause you to wake up to get more oxygen. CPAP machines are designed to help prevent any blockages from forming and supply you with enough oxygen while you sleep

Other sleep disorders, like Central Sleep Apnoea which is less common, can also benefit from CPAP machines, however, you will need to refer to a doctor for a recommended treatment, as Central Sleep Apnoea is caused by a neurological factor, rather than a mechanical obstruction.

CPAP machines should only need to be used by people who have been diagnosed with a sleep apnoea disorder. Speak with your GP about being tested for OSA or a sleeping disorder.

How do CPAP machines work?

CPAP machines are designed to provide a continuous flow of air to users while they sleep and prevent blockages from forming in the throat due to a sleeping disorder.

The motor compressor within a CPAP machine works to generate a stream of pressurised air and pushes it through an air filter into a flexible tube. The air then travels down the tube and into a mask that is either attached to your nose or mouth as you sleep. The air that is pushed into either your nose or mouth works against any blockages in your airways, such as a collapsed throat or airway canal, and keeps it open so your lungs can receive the oxygen.

Due to the pressurised air continually flowing into your lungs, your breathing won’t be paused or obstructed, allowing you to sleep straight through the night without repeatedly waking up due to a lack of oxygen.

Types of CPAP machines

There are several different types of CPAP machines available on the market, all with slightly different mechanics. If you are unsure about which CPAP machine is right for you, make sure to consult a doctor or health care professional before deciding. The three types of breathing machines include:

1. CPAP: CPAP machines provide a continuous flow of pressurised air that remains at a steady level for both inhaling and exhaling. The air pressure settings can be changed by resetting the machine’s settings.

2. Automatic Positive Airflow Pressure (APAP) machine: An APAP machine checks your breathing throughout the night. It automatically adjusts the air pressure to account for changes in your sleep positions or a change in breathing due to other factors such as medication.

3. Bi-level Positive Airflow Pressure (BiPAP) machine: This type of breathing device has two pressure settings, one for inhaling and a lower pressure for exhaling. It can be used by individuals who can’t tolerate CPAP machines or have elevated carbon dioxide levels in their blood. BiPAP machines also work well for those with central sleep apnoea as the machine has a backup respiratory rate and activates if users stop breathing.

Types of masks

Along with various types of devices, there is also a range of masks available to suit different user preferences. When choosing a mask, it’s important to consider how you naturally breath (through your nose or mouth), which sleep position you normally gravitate towards and the kind of sleep apnoea disorder you have.

1. Nasal Pillow Mask

This type of mask is designed to sit under the nose and usually has inserts that fit into your nostrils. There is generally one strap that splits into two, to help to keep the mask in place as you sleep – one around the crown of your head and one directly behind. This mask works well for people who wear glasses, people with lots of facial hair or those who may find it too restricting to sleep with a full mask.

2. Nasal Mask

A nasal mask is a cushioned mask that covers the entire surface area of the nose, not just underneath. It is more industrial in its design and has straps that sit around the top of the head and under the ears. This mask works well if you move around when you sleep and is great for a high-pressure airstream device.

3. Full Mask

As the name suggests, a full mask is a type of mask that covers both the nose and the mouth and usually comes in a triangular shape. A doctor might prescribe this kind of mask if you naturally breathe through your mouth or have a blockage in your nose that prevents enough oxygen from entering your lungs.

Benefits of CPAP machines

There are many benefits to using CPAP machines. In the short term, CPAP machines help your body receive enough oxygen and allow you to sleep without disruption, significantly improving your quality of life. The benefits of CPAP machines in the long run include:

  • Improved quality of sleep
  • Lowered risk of heart attacks, strokes or other cardiovascular problems
  • Helps lower blood pressure
  • Reduces daytime sleepiness and irritability due to lack of sleep

While CPAP machines can make a huge difference to how you sleep, there are some drawbacks worth considering, including:

  • Difficulty falling asleep due to mask discomfort, especially in the beginning
  • A feeling of claustrophobia
  • Nasal congestion
  • Dry mouth
  • Skin irritation where the mask comes into contact with the face

Make sure to consult your doctor or health care professional to better understand how a CPAP machine may benefit you, as well as some of the downsides to consider.

CPAP machines and the NDIS

In 2019, CPAP machines became one of the devices made available through NDIS funding. If you have been diagnosed with a sleep disorder and depending upon your plan and the allocated funding available, you may be eligible to claim your CPAP machine through the NDIS. Funding is generally allocated under ‘Assistive Technology’ or more specifically under ‘Ventilators’ in your plan budget. For filters, masks, replacement cushions, etc. these may be fundable under your Consumables budget.

At Averee, we stock a wide variety of different CPAP machines and accessories from leading industry brands to assist you in accessing quality sleep and may be claimed using your NDIS funding. Check out the full selection of CPAP machines and accessories from Averee now.