CPAP Myths, Misconceptions & Facts

CPAP Myths, Misconceptions & Facts

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CPAP Myths and facts. When it comes to CPAP therapy, there are many myths and misconceptions because CPAP therapy is complex and can be very challenging.

CPAP Myths, Misconceptions & Facts
CPAP Myths, Misconceptions & Facts

CPAP Myths

CPAP Myth:  Nasal pillow masks cannot be used with CPAP pressures over 12.

Fact:   This is one of the common CPAP myths. Although mask choice is a matter of individual choice for comfort and best fit, most masks are designed and tested to be used with pressures up to 20 cm h2o.

CPAP Myth:  My sleep study revealed a diagnosis of UARS (Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome) so I only have hypopneas, not apnea events.  I won’t benefit from CPAP therapy.

Fact:  Actually RERA’s or Respiratory Effort Related Arousals, can sometimes be very disturbing to some individuals and contribute to significant neurocognitive impairments including excessive daytime sleepiness.  RERAs are events characterized by increasing respiratory effort for 10 seconds or longer leading to an arousal from sleep but one that does not fulfill the criteria for a hypopnea or apnea and may result in a diagnosis of UARS.  CPAP therapy is commonly prescribed and successfully treats UARS.

CPAP Myth: Central sleep apnea is only treated with bilevel devices.

Fact:  Your doctor is best qualified to assist in prescribing the appropriate flow generator for your therapy, but CPAP, AutoCPAP, ASV and BiLevel devices are all possible contenders for treating central sleep apnea. For this reason we consider this to one of the common CPAP myths.

CPAP Myth:  If I just lose weight, I will not have to use CPAP to treat my sleep apnea.

Fact:   Obesity is but one symptom of sleep apnea and usually contributes to raising the level of apnea severity, not necessarily the sole cause.  Use CPAP therapy during weight loss and undergo a titration to reevaluate your apnea severity to confirm accurate pressure requirements when you reach your desired weight goal.

CPAP Myth:  A Dental appliance is an absolute option in treating my sleep apnea.

Fact:  While dental devices are successful for some patients, they are not best suited for everyone.  Often, dental devices are used with CPAP as a method to reduce help CPAP pressure when a patient has difficulty adapting to the prescribed pressure.  Dental devices are generally used in patients with mild sleep apnea.  Have a discussion with your sleep doctor and visit a sleep dentist for evaluation to determine if you are a candidate for a dental device.

CPAP Myth:  There is no difference between CPAP machine brands.

Facts:  This is also one of the common CPAP myths. There are vast differences in the technology and features of CPAP machines from one manufacturer to another.  I like to use the analogy of the automobile.   You turn on all cars with a key and they transport you somewhere, but they differ in size, weight, features, options and performance.  Test drive a CPAP, AutoCPAP or Bilevel as a discussion point with your sleep doctor to determine which works best for your lifestyle and health concerns.

CPAP Misconceptions

CPAP Misconception:  CPAP therapy causes more sleep disruption than having apnea, I am not using it.

Fact:  CPAP therapy is considered the gold standard treatment for sleep apnea.  While some patients realize the benefit after just a few nights use, it is a challenging treatment for most patients.  Only when the 3 components of CPAP, humidifier and mask, are all working properly and in tandem, will the patient experience quality and restorative sleep.

CPAP Misconception:  I live in a humid climate and do not need a heated CPAP humidifier.

Fact:  The need for heated CPAP humidification is indeed subjective; however most patients find that the addition of humidification does make CPAP therapy more comfortable thus successful.  The room temperature and humidity level of your sleeping environment is the key factor.  Not all CPAP devices that claim to provide humidification are equal in actual performance. The CPAP pulls in the air from your sleeping environment, ramps up to the optimal prescribed pressure and the patient receives a blast of air directly across the sensitive nasal lining.   During both winter and summer months when air conditioning is often used, the air may be cool.  The constant flow of cool air on the nasal lining can cause swelling of the turbinates resulting in a stuffy nose, a runny nose and even nose bleeds.  Adding warm moisture to the air via a CPAP humidifier resolves these very common problems.If you have a CPAP device with humidification and you continue to have drying of the  mouth or nasal complaints as listed above, ask your home healthcare provider, or your physician if the CPAP device you have responds to both ambient and relative humidification.  Not all do!

CPAP Misconception:  My CPAP mask leaks sometimes, so I won’t wear it.

Fact:   Most CPAP devices have a built in capacity to handle both a moderate leak and maintain the prescribed pressure to maintain a patent airway.  Knowing how to properly fit and adjust your mask is essential.  Ask your healthcare provider to show you how.

CPAP Myths, Misconceptions & Facts


Read more about mask problems at this post – Sleep Apnea Mask Problems and Solutions

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