Living With a Sleep Disorder – How to Check and Adjust CPAP Machines

CPAP machines are relatively simple to use and effective for treating a sleep disorder, but they still require some minor maintenance and care. One of the most important steps is to check the settings and to make, or have someone else like a Respiratory Therapist, make the necessary adjustments. This requires a bit of know-how and diligence, but it really isn’t as difficult as it may seem at first. Having the settings correct is far better than having a unit that blows too hard or one that generate enough air. Here’s how to check the settings on a sleep apnea machine: CPAP Masks

Understanding Pressures For A CPAP Machine

CPAP machines measure air pressure using the unit ‘centimeters in water,’ which appears as cwp or cm/H2O. To make the measurements easier to understand, consider that using vocal chords to speak requires approximately 7 cm/H2O. Therefore, to treat a sleep disorder, the machine will have to use pressures that range between 6 and 15 cm/H2O, depending on the individual and the severity of the obstruction or narrowing.

The titrated pressure determined during the sleep study will be the actual pressure the machine will need to be set for. Patients can also refer to the prescription given by the physician. Some patients are content with the titrated pressure. Others however, begin to feel tired after using this pressure for a while and have to adjust the machine until they are satisfied with the results.

Why Machine Settings Need To Be Accurate

Death isn’t imminent if a patient uses CPAP machines with the wrong settings, but it does have negative consequences. First, if the patient isn’t receiving the right amount of air, the apnea and sleeping problems will continue to take a toll on his or her life. It is also possible that the individual will become frustrated and stop the treatment.

If the pressure is too high, the treatment often feels uncomfortable. The patient feels tired, is swallowing air, needs to breathe through their nose, and may even experience dry mouth and dry throat.

When the pressure is too low however, the individual cannot get enough air to open the airway. He or she will feel tired, have insomnia at night, gasp for air, and fight feelings of claustrophobia or suffocation at night.

Checking And Adjusting Sleep Apnea Machines

Those using CPAP machines need to ensure the settings are checked just as they would check a prescription for any sort of medication. Patients can observe the Respiratory Therapist while he or she goes through the process of settings the machine. This will ensure that the CPAP is set properly before the unit goes home to give the patient the best possible chance at success.

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