How often is the CPAP used as treatment for sleep apnea?

This question was asked in Irvine, California on 06/01/2012.
How often is the CPAP used as treatment for sleep apnea? Is it always needed with a sleep apnea diagnosis?

Doctors Answers (6)

Maryann Deak, MD
Answered on: 9/14/2012

CPAP (i.e. continuous positive airway pressure) is a mask worn at night that uses pressurized air to restore normal breathing patterns during sleep. It is both the most common treatment option for obstructive sleep apnea and the most effective option.

Ramie A. Tritt, M.D., FRCSC
Answered on: 6/12/2012

CPAP's use in the treatment of sleep apnea depends on the cause(s) of the individual's sleep apnea condition and the severity of each individual's condition. Even if CPAP is the "best" choice for an individual, that person may not be able to tolerate the CPAP; therefore, another treatment is recommended. Weight loss and an oral appliance can help in some cases of sleep apnea. A thorough evaluation of the individual's "airway", the area from the tip of the nose to the windpipe, may reveal an area of narrowing or partial blockage that may be corrected with medication or a surgical procedure(s). Bottom line, CPAP is an excellent treatment for sleep apnea but it is not the only treatment used to treat this condition.

Richard J. Schumann Jr., MD
Answered on: 6/4/2012 1

PAP (positve airway pressure) therapy either continuous or bilevel therapy (changing levels on inspiration or expiration) is the mainstay therapy in most cases of pathologic sleep disordered breathing. Alternatives in certain cases include: in mild/moderate disease are an oral appliance usually made a dentists office who specializes in sleep medicine or for refractory cases palatal surgery to widen the airway usually performed by an ENT physician. For appropriate patients weight loss and refraining from smoking and alcohol or sedative hypnotic use is also advisable.

Gary K. Zammit, Ph.D.
Answered on: 6/4/2012 1

CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, is to be used every time you sleep, including naps, whenever possible. While CPAP is quite effective in improving breathing during sleep, it only works when it is used. So sleeping without the mask means that the sleeper is "back to baseline." The benefits of CPAP diminish sharply with only one night off, so keeping compliant with recommended CPAP use is essential to good health.

J. Douglas Hudson, MD, DABSM
Answered on: 6/4/2012 1

CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) is commonly used to treat sleep apnea. This stents the airway open to eliminate the collapse of the tongue and soft palate. Prior to the invention of the CPAP machine, a tracheotomy was commonly used to treat severe cases of sleep apnea.

There are two types of sleep apnea, Central and Obstructive, but both are generally treated with PAP therapy. There is also Bi Level therapy and a more complicated device called Servo ventilation but we generally use the term CPAP referring to Positive Airway Pressure machines.

Learning to use a CPAP machine primarily involves adjusting to the mask. While a few persons adapt quickly, most patients with sleep apnea take a period of time to adjust. It is something like learning to wear shoes while you sleep or wearing anything you have not done before.

There are three reasons people want to use CPAP therapy. First, to feel better with less daytime fatigue, more energy and elimination of night time urination. Second, to treat your bed partner to a quiet night. And third, to prevent strokes and heart attacks which are common in patients with sleep apnea who go untreated.

There are many other benefits such as weight loss diets begin to work, blood sugars and blood pressures begin to normalize and now we hear that cancer of all types are more common in untreated sleep apnea patients.

Is CPAP always needed? There are some patients who only have sleep apnea when they sleep on their back. In these patients, avoiding sleeping on their back eliminates the need for CPAP. Other treatments include dental devices to move the lower jaw forward and open up the airway but this treatment usually just helps reduce sleep apnea, not eliminate it altogether.

Syed Nabi, M.D.
Answered on: 6/4/2012 1

CPAP is the best and gold standard treatment for sleep apnea. Sometimes when people have mild to moderate apnea and a significnt overbite, an oral device can be used. But with an oral device it doesn't guranted cure. You need to be tested down the road in 6 months to make sure apnea is completely gone. With surgery, there is a 50% 50% chance if it will work or not.