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Common Sleep Apnea Definitions

CPAP - Continuous Positive Airway Pressure

People with breathing problems such as Obstructive Sleep Apnea, lung cancer or emphysema patients require oxygen therapy in order to be able to breathe without problems. A Continuous Positive Airway Pressure device helps maintaining the upper airways open, and thus patients get enough oxygen into their lungs.

The CPAP treatment is performed with the help of a special device that blows the air into a flexible tubing and then into the mask which is positioned onto the face of the patient. There is a huge variety of sleep therapy devices or CPAPs available, and here at you are welcome to browse through the available items and select the one that best suits your needs.

 Many CPAP devices have added features such as a heated humidifier, for greater therapy compliance. Also, choosing a perfectly fitting mask is of primordial importance. The mask must offer the best seal to avoid mask leaks, but it also needs to be lightweight so that therapy during sleep is comfortable.

CPAP machines deliver a Continuous Flow of room air for the patient to breathe in. The airways are thus kept open, under the pressure delivered by the machine. The sleep physician is the one who will determine the correct titration pressure required for the most efficient therapy. The sleep technician is the one that conducts a study, called “polysomnography” in a special sleep laboratory. The experts will record important data pertaining to the breathing rate of the patient, snoring, apnea episodes and so on. After analyzing the data, the physician is able to prescribe the best course of treatment for the patient.

APAP, AutoPAP, AutoCPAP- Automatic Positive Airway Pressure

The Automatic Positive Airway Pressure device will automatically titrate or tune the exact amount of oxygen pressure required by the patient, based on his specific breathing rate. These devices deliver oxygen on a “breath-by-breath” basis, making thus therapy more custom tailored to the patient’s individual needs.

Bi-Level Positive Pressure Device

The VPAP or BiPAP (Bilevel/ Variable Positive Airway Pressure) device delivers two different levels of pressure: one at inhaling (a higher pressure) and one pressure at exhaling (a lower pressure).

Many patients noncompliant with traditional CPAP therapy will be recommended to start Bi-level or VPAP therapy. The needs of each patient are different. Some do not cope well with exhaling against a high pressure delivered by the CPAP machine which offers only Continuous Flow oxygen. The Bi-Level device helps these patients become more compliant with therapy, having a higher oxygen pressure at inhaling, and a lower pressure at exhaling.

Central Sleep Apnea

Central Sleep Apnea is different from Obstructive Sleep Apnea in that the patient cannot breathe not because the upper airways are obstructed but because during sleep the respiratory control centers of the brain are imbalanced. The brain does not send proper signals to the breathing muscles and thus the patient is not able to maintain a normal, even respiratory rate. Patients generally stop breathing, and then will start again.

In order to control Central Sleep Apneas such as Cheyne –Stokes Respiration, physicians prescribe the use of a CPAP or BiPAP device.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea & Hypopnea

OSA - or Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a condition in which the patient’s upper airways are obstructed during sleep. This results in heavy snoring most of the times, and patients also experience “apneas” or cessation of breath episodes. An OSA patient can stop breathing even up to 15 or 20 seconds per episode, and these episodes can repeat themselves several times per hour/night.

Increased body weight, smoking, and age are all factors that can indicate an increased risk for developing OSA. With proper medical investigation, patients can go on CPAP or BiPAP therapy which helps them sleep all through the night, getting enough oxygen and hindering apneas from happening.

Hypopnea on the other hand is a condition where the patient has an extremely shallow breath, and/or very low breathing rates.

Hypopnea is classified as a sleep disorder and it can be a moderate or a severe one. Even though the patient might sleep all through the night, he will wake up extremely fatigued, feeling that sleep was not refreshing. Patients with hypopnea are also normally required to start CPAP or BiPAP therapy in order to get refreshing sleep and enough oxygen into their lungs.

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