CPAP Sleep Apnea also known as Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. Positive Airway Pressure therapies for Sleep Apnea Syndromes are the most common treatments today. There are mainly two types, CPAP and BIPAP therapies but there is a new form called V-PAP. CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, and BiPAP stands for Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure. In essence they are very similar in how they treat sleep apnea conditions. CPAP delivers a continuous pressure, while BiPAP delivers a higher pressure when you inhale and a lower pressure when you exhale. For some patients, BiPAP is more comfortable for this reason.
Because most sleep apnea patients have Obstructive Sleep Apnea syndrome, the mechanism by which pressure therapy works is by reducing the degree of obstruction. Think of these therapies as “air splints”. In essence, a sleep apnea patient places a mask over their nostrils, nose or mouth and nose. The mask is sealed fairly snug to prevent air leakage. The mask is then connected to a tube that travels to a small quiet machine that sits on the nightstand. It generates pressure along with humidified air, and the air pressure travels through the tube to the mask and into the throat area. This pressure (which varies from patient to patient) opens the throat enough to allow normal breathing during sleep.
Because the tongue and soft tissue of the throat causes obstruction most commonly in Sleep Apnea Syndromes, CPAP and BiPAP pressure therapies effectively work since these tissues move easily. If there is a bony deformity of the palate or jaw or nasal airflow resistance, these therapies work less well. The ability to initially open the airway is almost 100% but the apparatus of the hose and mask and air leaks, sinus irritation many patients use the therapy only a few hours a night or discontinue treatment. The estimates of ability of a patient to successively use CPAP or BIPAP are as low as 50% and as high as 70%. Therefore many patients need an alternative to CPAP treatment.