Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a breathing disorder occurs during sleep. OSA patients experience brief pausing of breath (apnea) during sleep. Apnea can occur as frequently as 20-30 times per hour, lasting for at least 10 seconds or more every time. Patients with less severe conditions may experience apnea a few times every hour.


 Using CPAP

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) is the most common treatment for OSA. When going to bed, the patient put on a mask that connects to the CPAP machine. The machine will deliver air of the prescribed pressure through the nostrils into pharynx and larynx of the patient to open the obstructing tissues to prevent apnea. CPAP is a long-term treatment. The patients have to use the machines every time they go to sleep.

How to use CPAP and fit Mask

Continuous PAP (CPAP) delivers air at the prescribed pressure throughout the night. They are the most economic and popular type of CPAP machines.

Auto CPAP continuously detects the breathing pattern of the patient and delivers air at various pressure depend on the airway conditions of the patient. The stage and pose of sleep can affect the condition of OSA. The physiological condition of every person in every night is different. Drinking or smoking before sleep tends to loosen airway tissues and worsen the symptoms. Sleeping face-up is more likely to obstruct the airway than sleeping side-way. When the airway is obstructed or apnea occurs, the machine automatically increases the pressure to open the airway. The pressure will be reduced when the airway is opened. Patients do not need to receive high pressure all the time and is more comfortable than using the basic models of CPAP machines.


Fitting a Mask

Step One
First time users should look at a mirror when putting on a mask. Position the mask at the center of the face without pressing at the eyes or the lips.
Step Two
Secure the upper straps on your head over your ears and the lower straps below your ears. The straps should not press against your ears.
Step Three
Tighten the straps evenly from both sides. Do not over tighten them.
Step Four
Except the ventilation slits, no air should be leaking from the edge of the mask.
Step Five
After settling on the bed, adjust the straps and make sure that there is no leakage from the edge of the mask before going to sleep.


Cleaning of Masks and Accessories

Accessories from different manufacturers may have different procedures for cleaning. Please refer to the manufacturer’s product manuals.

 IntervalCleaning MethodNote
Mask Every day Wipe the mask softly with warm soap water Disinfectant, bleach or alcohol shortens the life-span of the mask and irritates the skin
Then rinse the mask with fresh water and air-dried. Wash your face to remove grease before using the mask. It will extend the life-span of the mask.
Headgears and chin straps Every week Close the Velcro of the headgears before cleaning. If you are using a washing machine, washing the headgear or the chin straps in a laundry bag can avoid deformation.
Submerge the air tubing, headgears and foam filters in soap water for a few minutes inside a plastic tray.  
Tubing Rinse them with fresh water and dried them before use. Dry the tubing by hanging it in a shady and dry place.
Foam Filters   When the foam filter is damaged, replace it immediately. Dust and dirt will enter the machine through a damaged foam filter and damage the motor.
Disposable filter Every month Cannot be cleaned. Washed disposable filter does not function. Do not use facial tissue or facial cotton for the filter. They cannot filter air but jam the CPAP machine and destabilize the pressure.
Humidifier/heated humidifier Clean the water reservoir everyday Clean the reservoir and the tubing with soap water and then rinse them with fresh water. Do not wash heated humidifiers. They can only be cleaned by wiping with wetted cloth. Disconnect the power before cleaning. Replace the reservoir with fresh distilled water everyday.


Tips on Operation

  1. Do not block the air inlet. It is important to have an unobstructed airflow.
  2. Apply the foam filter and the disposable filter to the air inlet to stop dust and dirt from entering the machine. Dust and dirt can damage the motor, generate noise and cause infection.
  3. Except the ventilation ports, no air should leak from the mask. Tighten the straps from both sides and check for leakage at the edge of the mask with your fingers.
  4. Do not block the ventilation ports of the mask.
  5. Wash the mask everyday. Keeping the mask clean can avoid skin irritation and infection.


Possible Discomfort

There is an adjusting period for using CPAP machine. Beginners usually face some discomfort and difficulties in using the machine. The following tips can help you to adjust easier:

  1. Dry eyes or pain:  The mask leaks at the edge near your eyes. You should tighten the upper straps. It is also possible that the size of the headgear or the mask is not right for you. Try a different size.
  2. Dry mouth or dry tongue:  The patient probably opens the mouth during sleep. Use a chin strap.
  3. Dry nose, dry throat or bleeding in the nose:  Humidity is too low in the room. Use a humidifier.
  4. Running nose:  Common in new users who are not use to the pressure. It is completely normal and some prescription nasal sprays can help.
  5. Headache:  the head straps may be too tight. It is also possible that the patient is not mentally prepared for the treatment. The patient can put the mask on during the day to get to use to the mask sooner. He/she can also seek help from health care professionals.
  6. Backache:  It is likely that the patient has regained the REM stage of sleep. His/her body muscles completely relax but he/she does not change his/her pose during sleep. It is common among new users. The situation will improve after a period of time.

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