What is Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the most common type of sleep apnea. It is estimated to affect up to 30% of adults in the United States, but in many cases it goes undiagnosed. OSA occurs when the airway at the back of the throat becomes constricted or blocked during sleep, which may cause snoring as air is prevented from passing through normally. The primary causes of airway obstruction are a lack of muscle tone during sleep, excess tissue in the upper airway and abnormalities in the upper airway and jaw.
People with sleep apnea experience repeated reductions or pauses in breathing for brief periods while they sleep, but may not fully wake up or become aware that their nighttime breathing is abnormal. Certain symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea may not be immediately noticeable to the person with the condition. For example, abnormal breathing and snoring may only come to a person’s attention after they are observed by a bed partner.
A person with the following frequent symptoms may be a candidate for a sleep study (usually prescribed by a physician), to help properly determine if they require treatment for OSA:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Loud snoring
- Gasping or choking sounds
- Headaches in the morning
- Dry mouth upon awakening
- Restless sleep with periods of wakefulness
- Increased need to get up from bed to urinate
- Irritability or frustration
- Lack of energy; feeling tired
- Reduced focus
Many of the symptoms of sleep apnea can also be caused by other health issues, so the condition cannot be diagnosed by symptoms alone.
Understanding PAP Therapy
Positive airway pressure (PAP) treatment uses a machine to pump air into the upper airway of the lungs through a facial mask or nasal cannula. These devices can be used in the treatment of sleep apnea, sleep disorders, congestive heart failure, and/or severe respiratory distress. Some people are able to tolerate a steady and gentle flow of air during sleep, while others cannot. This type of ventilation is also sometimes used for newborn babies or neonates, or people with atelectasis who have difficulty in taking deep breaths. PAP therapy can also prevent the need for tracheal intubation or help in early extubation. Doctors can also prescribe this type of therapy in treating neuromuscular diseases.
The most accepted and effective treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure or “CPAP Therapy.” Continuous positive airway pressure involves respiratory ventilation to help ensure a comfortable sleep throughout the night.
CPAP vs. Bi-Level PAP Systems
CPAP machines are the most commonly-used devices for obstructive sleep apnea. These devices deliver a steady, continuous stream of air pressure to the upper airways and can only be set for a single level of pressure throughout the night. A CPAP titration study is conducted to determine the pressure settings for your device.
- CPAP is an acronym for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. It provides the same, single level of pressure to the person’s upper airway all night
- This continuous air pressure prevents the upper airway from collapsing at the time of sleep.
BI-LEVEL PAP SYSTEMS
Bi-Level PAP systems (or two-level) are positive airway pressure machines that are similar to CPAP except that they have two pressure settings – one pressure setting for inhalation and a lower setting for exhalation.
- Bi-Level PAP stands for Bi-Level Positive Airway Pressure. It provides varying levels of pressure to the upper airway in the night
- The pressure is high at the time of inhalation and lower at the time of exhalation
At MedXPress, we offer industry-leading CPAP/Bi-Level PAP systems from top quality manufacturers such as ResMed, Phillips Respironics, Fisher & Paykel, and Drive DeVilbiss. This includes CPAP masks, along with many other replacement parts and accessories.