A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is a method of respiratory ventilation. It was first developed for the treatment of sleep apnea and is still used most often for the treatment of that condition. CPAPs are also sometimes used for critically ill patients or neonatal patients who are in danger of respiratory failure. Although using a continuous positive airway pressure machine can take some time to get comfortable with, there are some ways to maximize CPAP comfort by adjusting its settings or fittings.
A continuous positive airway pressure machine delivers a stream of compressed air through a facial or nasal mask into the nasal passage. This keeps the air passage open through use of air pressure, not the flow of air. Although air does flow through the mask, once the mask is on the face it creates an airtight seal. At that point, the air pressure acts as a vacuum to keep the passage open.
Beginner CPAP users sometimes feel that the air pressure is too high or have trouble breathing out against the pressurized air. As they adjust to the machine, this sensation will go away for many CPAP users. Until then, the user can increase CPAP comfort by using the ramp feature on his machine. This feature drops the pressure to low pressure and then slow raises it back to the prescribed setting. Another feature designed to increase CPAP comfort is the Cflex, which allows the air pressure to decrease as the user exhales, making it easier for the user to breathe out.
CPAP users may also find the machine too loud or the mask uncomfortable. Users who find the machine too noisy should check the filter and clean it if it is dirty. Another way to increase CPAP comfort is to use a longer hose so that the noise can be minimized by placing the machine further away from the bed. If the mask is uncomfortable, the user should consider choosing a nasal mask because it covers less of the face. He should also consider loosening the straps on the mask if it is too tight.
The in-line humidifier can also decrease CPAP comfort. If it is not working or not set high enough, the user could suffer from dryness in his nose or nose bleeds. On the other hand, if the humidifier is turned up too high, condensation may collect in the mask or tube. The user should try the CPAP machine for a few nights, adjusting the settings as needed.