A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device is a small machine used to help people who suffer from sleep apnea or other conditions that negatively affect breathing, either at night or during daily activity. A CPAP device works by releasing a continuous, slightly pressurized stream of air directly into a person's nose, which allows for unobstructed breathing. With the regular use of a CPAP device, an individual is usually able to maintain healthy sleeping patterns, breathe easier, and enjoy higher levels of physical activity.
The main component of a CPAP device is a small, portable compartment that quietly compresses and releases air. There is often a digital or analog display screen on the compartment which indicates that the CPAP device is operating and the amount of air pressure that it is generating. Medical professionals can determine, preset, and adjust air pressurization levels based on an individual's specific condition and needs. People who experience excessive nasal dryness can obtain CPAP models that are equipped with small humidifiers.
As air exits the main compartment of a CPAP device, it travels up a plastic hose to a face mask or small nasal piece. The face piece creates a vacuum seal around the nose, forcing the pressurized air into a person's airways at a constant rate. Many different types of masks and nose devices are available at medical supply stores, and individuals often test out multiple designs to determine which one fits most comfortably.
An individual with sleep apnea can benefit greatly from the use of a CPAP device. Apnea often results in difficulty breathing at night, which in turn leads to a lack of oxygen in the blood. Lowered oxygen levels can cause an afflicted person to wake up suddenly, struggling to breathe. When equipped with a CPAP device, the individual's airways remain open through the night and oxygen levels in the blood are continuously replenished.
People may find CPAP devices to be clumsy or uncomfortable at first, but with proper adjustments to face masks and practice using devices during the daytime, most individuals are able to use them with ease. After just a few nights of using CPAP devices, people often find partial or complete relief from sleep apnea and other conditions that constrict airways and disturb sleeping patterns, including snoring and low respiratory rates. Most people who suffer from breathing problems at night utilize CPAP devices for months or even years to sleep soundly, have more energy, and breathe freely.