Sleep apnea is recognized as a life-threatening condition, requiring prompt diagnosis and treatment. Snoring may be a prime symptom of sleep apnea.
If you have sleep apnea on your polysomnogram (sleep) study, you will have a CPAP test performed. Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) is used primarily to treat obstructive sleep apnea, although there is evidence that it may be helpful in patients suffering from central apnea as well. CPAP involves the placement of a mask over the nose during sleep. An air compressor creates pressure that forces the air through the nasal passages to keep the airway open. This prevents snoring, airway obstruction, and drops in the oxygen level in the blood. This allows the patient to cycle normally through the different stages of sleep without awakening at night from a lack of oxygen, and to awaken in the morning feeling refreshed and alert during the day.
Bilevel therapy is similar to nasal CPAP, except that it delivers two different pressures: a higher pressure for breathing in and a lower pressure for breathing out. Bilevel pressures are often required to control central apneas.
For the CPAP test in the laboratory, different masks are used to determine the proper mask and proper fit for you. Pressures are adjusted to define the optimal pressure for treating your specific obstructive sleep apnea. Different patients prefer different masks and require different air pressure for control of their obstructive sleep apnea symptoms.
There are many types of CPAP masks and devices. At the beginning of the study, you will be able to choose the mask you find most comfortable. During the study, you can try on different masks to find the one you like best.
The CPAP mask may cover only your nose, both your nose and mouth, or you may use nasal pillows that fit in your nostrils. It is important that whatever method you use fits well and is comfortable. The mask must make a seal in order to keep your airway open through the night. A good mask seal will prevent air leaks and maintain the right level of air pressure. Your CPAP study will determine the amount of air pressure needed for CPAP to treat your sleep apnea. The CPAP titration study will calibrate your air pressure setting.
Oxypap/CPAP machines can provide a variety of different pressures. Each patient needs his/her own customized pressure to treat sleep apnea. In the sleep center, we will try different pressure levels to determine which pressure is best for you. This will ensure that you will receive the most effective CPAP treatment at home. During the CPAP study, the sleep technologist will monitor your breathing patterns, heart rhythm, and sleep stages. If you show continuing signs of sleep apnea, the pressure will be adjusted until the breathing abnormalities resolve. Following your CPAP study, the data from your study is reviewed to determine the most effective equipment and pressure for you.