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Sleep Apnea Treatments


CPAP Breathing Machines
Many patients with sleep apnea experience sounder sleep with the use of a CPAP machine.
Many patients with sleep apnea experience sounder sleep with the use of a CPAP machine.
iStockphoto/Thinkstock

The most common treatment for both types of sleep apnea is the use of a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine. The machine consists of a small boxy unit that contains a motor, and a tube that delivers air to a mask, which is worn either over the nose or over both the nose and mouth. The air is delivered at a high enough pressure to keep the airway open during sleep. The machine tends to be quiet and produces a gentle rhythmic sound that does not interfere with most patients' sleep. Some units have additional features such as heated humidifiers, tracking software and power outage backup technology.

In order to get a CPAP machine, you'll need a prescription from your doctor.

Typically, once you've purchased the machine, a technician will come to your home to set up the machine and show you how to use it. A few subsequent adjustments might be needed to get the level of pressure just right for your needs.

The side effects from using CPAP machines are relatively few and minor and include the following: skin irritation around the mask area, headaches, dry mouth, and dry or clogged nose. In some cases, the stomach may fill with air causing some discomfort. If this occurs, a change in sleeping position or air pressure level can help.


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