CPAP Therapy for Sleep Apnea
Patients who have been diagnosed with sleep apnea may need to undergo a sleep study test to determine what type of treatment is best for their condition. A common method of treating sleep apnea is the use of continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP device. A CPAP device uses a mask that fits over the mouth and nose. The machine blows air into the throat and the pressure from the air helps keep the airway open during sleep. This technique of forcing air into the nose and upper airway restores free breathing for patients who suffer from sleep apnea.
Before a CPAP device can be prescribed for a patient, they may undergo a sleep study test using a CPAP device to determine the severity of sleep apnea and to establish the right equipment levels for CPAP therapy. This allows the doctor to create a customized treatment plan for the patient.
The CPAP Test
To participate in the sleep test, the patient will receive a portable monitor that measures activity while they are sleeping, and a CPAP device. A mask or other device is fitted over the nose and mouth with straps that keep the mask in place. The CPAP device is connected to the mouth, and it will automatically titrate, or adjust the amount of air pressure needed to breathe during sleep without causing apnea. Air pressure is first pumped at a very low level and is gradually increased during the night. The purpose is to find the right level of air pressure to prevent collapse of the upper airway while the patient sleeps.
CPAP Test Results
For accurate test results, patients must sleep for at least two hours on the night of the sleep testing. The next day, the patient returns the monitor and the CPAP device to their doctor, who will interpret the results and create a customized treatment plan for their individual condition. If the doctor finds that CPAP therapy is an effective form of treatment, the patient will be fitted for a mask and may obtain a CPAP unit for use in the home.