How a CPAP Works to Help You Breathe Easier While You Sleep

Aug 01, 2023
How a CPAP Works to Help You Breathe Easier While You Sleep
You’ve probably heard of a CPAP machine. But, do you know how it helps with sleep apnea? Keep reading to see how this life-saving device works and if you could use one.

Sleep apnea is a common problem. It’s so common, in fact, that you’ve likely heard of a “CPAP” machine or may even know someone who uses one. But, do you know how these machines work and why they’re important? 

Our providers at Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine in Algonquin, Illinois, provide solutions that help improve our patients’ health and well-being. If you or someone you love has a sleep disorder, here’s how a CPAP machine can help.

The problem with sleep apnea

To understand the life-saving benefits of a CPAP machine — which stands for continuous positive airway pressure machine — you have to start with the condition it treats: sleep apnea. This serious sleep disorder causes sufferers to stop breathing repeatedly while sleeping.

There are several types of sleep apnea, but the most common is obstructive sleep apnea, in which soft tissues in the throat block the airway. This causes the person to awake briefly to clear their airway, though they aren’t usually conscious of this. Unfortunately, this can happen many times throughout the night, which can trigger a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Loud snoring
  • Breathing that stops and starts
  • Gasping for breath while sleeping
  • Problems staying asleep

You can also have symptoms during your waking hours, such as morning headaches, excessive sleepiness, irritability, and issues concentrating.

Worse yet, not getting enough oxygen while sleeping can put a serious strain on your body and take a toll on your overall health. In fact, sleep apnea increases your risk for dangerous complications, from high blood pressure, heart problems, and Type 2 diabetes to liver problems and even early death.

Fortunately, a CPAP machine can help you breathe — and sleep — better.

How a CPAP machine works

In short, a CPAP machine helps keep your airway open. There are different types of CPAP machines, but they all work in a similar way in that they deliver a constant stream of pressurized air to your system through a special mask. Each of these mask styles has specific advantages, such as:

  • A nasal mask covers your entire nose, which is good for sleepers who move around a lot
  • A nasal pillow mask only covers the bottom of the nose where the nostrils are, which is great for people who wear glasses
  • A full mask covers your nose and mouth, which is ideal for those who breathe through their mouth

The mask attaches to your CPAP machine. This part of the device takes air from your surroundings, then filters and pressurizes it before pushing it through a thin, flexible tube to your mask. 

This constant stream of clean air helps keep your airway open by preventing soft tissues from shifting into your throat. 

CPAP machines are also completely customizable to ensure you get the fit and airflow you need based on the extent of your condition. That means you can expect maximum comfort while restoring your sleep quality. You can even get portable CPAP machines, so it’s easy to use away from home.

Are you ready to wake up feeling refreshed, rested, and alert? Do you want to improve your overall health, wellness, and mood? It all starts with a good night’s sleep, and a CPAP machine can help.

Whether you suspect you have sleep apnea or have had a diagnosis, you’re in good hands with our team. To schedule a consultation or sleep study, call 815-584-0976 or book an appointment online with Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine today.