What Are the Pros and Cons of an Auto CPAP Machine?

Approximately five percent of the population suffers from sleep apnea. In addition to loud snoring and lack of rest, sleep apnea can cause cardiac arrhythmia, increased risk of stroke, and other medical problems. Those who live with a person who has sleep apnea may also suffer from lack of sleep due to the loud snoring. Many sleep apnea patients are treated with a continuous positive airway pressure machine (CPAP). Each individual must decide if the benefits outweigh the problems associated with using an auto CPAP machine.

These machines work by forcing air into the individual's nasal passages to simulate normal breathing. The force of air is strong enough to get past any obstructions, such as airway collapse, which is a common cause of sleep apnea. A CPAP machine comes equipped with a pump, air tube, and a face or nose mask, depending on the doctor's recommendation.

Some CPAP machines force air continuously, while others adjust for the individual's nightly breathing changes. In all cases, the airways are forced open for unobstructed breathing during sleep. The majority of users wear the nasal mask only, while a smaller number of users have the mask that fits over the nose and mouth.

The primary short-term benefit of an auto CPAP machine is a good night's rest. The severe daytime sleepiness experienced by those who have sleep apnea will usually disappear. The user will feel well rested and ready to meet the day. The long-term benefit is the improvement to the body's cardiovascular functioning.

Research studies concluded that the average life expectancy for auto CPAP machine users increases, as opposed to the life expectancy of those with sleep apnea who do not use a machine. Other studies found the risk of stroke, diabetes, and other medical issues is reduced when this machine is used. The long-term risk of untreated sleep apnea also includes lack of focus and inability to concentrate.

Problems with the auto CPAP machine include difficulty of use and cumbersome travel. Reports of dissatisfaction are common, due to the tight-fitting mask that users are required to wear. In addition, users who travel for work or for pleasure report transporting the machine can be more trouble than they feel it is worth.

The standard auto CPAP machine forces air into the nasal passages continuously, regardless of whether the user is inhaling or exhaling. Some users find it difficult to exhale when air is being forced inward. Nasal congestion, a sore throat, and painful eyes have also been reported by users of CPAP machines.

More serious complaints include chest soreness due to increased lung expansion, nosebleeds, and stomach bloating. In addition, the noise of the machine, which runs on electricity, keeps some users awake. Due to the fact that the mask must be worn tightly on the face for it to work properly, some users feel claustrophobic.

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