Market growth resulting from increased acceptance of any therapy option invariably attracts further investments. A promising market would invariably convince researchers and manufacturers to develop innovative products as well as introducing product extensions to cater to an expanding customer base, changing patient needs and improve on several compliance issues.
Since its first introduction in the ‘80s, CPAP (Continuous Positive Air Pressure) equipment has undergone several innovative and value-added improvements in terms of design and functionality, many of which are primarily aimed at increasing patient compliance and reduce discomfort of use.
CPAP therapy is in a class of its own, in more ways than one. Not only is it recognized by the American Sleep Apnea Association as one of the most effective ways to reduce the intensity and frequency of sleep apnea symptoms, but this non-invasive therapy option is often the doctors’ immediate tool to provide relief to the apnea patient, suffering from recurrent pauses in breathing during sleep. Running out of breath could be one of the most distressful and life-threatening situations one can encounter.
Before you learn about the different options available with the CPAP equipment, you need to know the basic functions of a typical CPAP device. What does it do and how does it work? The primary aim of any CPAP equipment is to pump pre-set pressurized air into the lungs of the apnea patient to prevent the airways from collapsing and blocking normal breathing during sleep.
The amount of air needed by a patient to keep the airway open differs from one user to another. The doctor treating the condition would be the final judge to decide what amount of pressurized air could benefit a particular patient, depending on the severity of the condition, which has already been revealed by the results of a polysomnography examination.
CPAP equipment: components
- The CPAP device that generates the pressurized air
- The CPAP mask worn by the user on the nose, mouth or both that acts as a conduit between the device and the lungs
- Hose connecting the mask with the device.
Need-driven innovations: the origin of different types of CPAP equipment
Innovations have not only happened in the CPAP machine but also with the CPAP mask. While innovations and improvements with the CPAP machine have been governed by the need of patients to adjust the amounts of pressure as well as more freedom to choose the flow of pressurized air, improvements in the mask design and functionality have been based on the manner in which different patients breathe and sleep.
The different types of CPAP equipment: take your pick
- CPAP sleep apnea machine: By far the most common and the least expensive of the three, this machine is designed to deliver a continuous stream of air pressure to the lungs, no matter whether the user is inhaling or exhaling. The “continuous” nature of the airflow, according to some people, is the only downside to this type of device. Be that as it may, this is the original model (though current designs are smaller in size, less noisy and less cumbersome to use) and remains one of the most widely prescribed airway pressure devices.
- BiPAP stands for Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure. This machine, also known as VPAP (variable positive airway pressure) and BiPAP ST (Bilevel positive airway pressure spontaneous timed) works much in the same way as average CPAP equipment but differs in one important aspect. It has the capability to deliver more pressured air during inhalation and less pressured air during exhalation. This directly counteracts one of the major drawbacks of the usual CPAP equipment.
- APAP is the third type of CPAP equipment, where APAP stands for automatic positive airway pressure. Here again, the working principle is the same, but this machine has the capability of auto-adjusting the air pressure on a breath by breath basis.
In the final analysis, all the different types of CPAP equipment have their fair share of pros and cons. You should assess your own requirements and then talk it over with your doctor for his or her suggestions before investing in any of the machines.
References & Resources:
- A comparison of continuous and bi-level positive airway pressure non-invasive ventilation in patients with acute cardiogenic pulmonary oedema: a meta-analysis
- Non-invasive ventilation in acute respiratory failure: a randomised comparison of continuous positive airway pressure and bi-level positive airway pressure
- Review of oral appliances for treatment of sleep-disordered breathing
- A Multicenter, Prospective Study of a Novel Nasal EPAP Device in the Treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Efficacy and 30-Day Adherence
- A multicenter evaluation of oral pressure therapy for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea