Do you suffer from sleep apnea? If so, you’re not alone. Around 18 million Americans are estimated to have this condition, which causes you to stop breathing for anywhere from a few seconds to even a minute. Left untreated and undiagnosed, it can be dangerous and increase the risk of heart disease by three times and a stroke by four times compared to those who don’t have this problem. Fortunately, however, there are treatments available to address the causes and effects of this disturbance in your sleep.
The most popular treatment for sleep apnea is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy, and this is applied through devices called CPAP masks. These machines provide continuous air pressure to the nostrils in order to avoid what are called apneas — interruptions in sleep that cause a person to stop breathing.
Unfortunately, not everyone likes using a CPAP machine, despite its effectiveness. Around 80% of patients who use a CPAP machine admit that they don’t use it enough to keep them from suffering from apnea, and studies have shown that approximately half of all people prescribed CPAP machines by their doctors will stop using them within about one to three weeks. In order to ensure that your CPAP mask or machine is working properly and treating your apnea, it should be worn at least four hours a night for about 21 of every 30 days each month. This not only helps you breathe better, but it also has a better chance of working when used consistently.
The trick for some people who suffer from sleep apnea may be to find the right type of CPAP machine. For instance, around half of CPAP users prefer nasal pillows, whereas 45% like nasal masks best. (The other 5% have no preference.) Nasal pillows are much smaller and only use one tube that goes around the head and rests under the nose. This is in contrast to the full nasal mask, which covers the nose and mouth. The best way to find out which one will work best is to speak to a medical professional.