Continuous positive airway pressure machines, or CPAP machines, are used to deliver pressurized air through tubing into a mask you wear while you sleep. CPAP machines are used to treat sleep apnea, a disorder that interrupts your breathing while you sleep. Sleep apnea can lead to lack of oxygen, strokes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and other health issues. CPAP machines keep your airways open and deliver continuous air through your nose and mouth. There are 3 types of CPAP machines starting with bi-level PAP. Bi-level PAP uses 2 different pressures, one for inhalation and one for exhalation. The 2nd type is auto-CPAP, it regulates itself, using a variety of pressures to keep airways open. The 3rd type is Adaptive servo ventilation(ASV), ASV keeps your airways open by delivering a mandatory breath. A CPAP machine works by taking in the room’s air, filtering and pressurizing it, and delivers it through a tube into the mask. The advantages to using a CPAP machine are improved sleep, lowered risk of heart attacks, a reduction in daytime sleepiness, and improved sugar control in those with diabetes. The cons are it can be uncomfortable, can give nasal congestion, make you feel claustrophobic, and give a dry mouth. Most negative side effects diminish as you get used to using it. CPAP machines have also helped during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Research shows that people with sleep apnea have an increased chance of contracting Covid-19. Using a CPAP can give a lower risk of infection to those with sleep apnea. CPAP therapy has also become a treatment option for those with Covid-19, regardless of sleep apnea. Covid-19 can affect lung function causing a low level of oxygen in the blood. Typically, a ventilator is used to treat respiratory failure but this is an invasive treatment. CPAP machines had early success at treating low oxygen levels in Covid-19 patients while being non-invasive, however more research needs to be conducted to find its benefits and downsides. CPAP also has lower effectiveness in older adults and people with significant respiratory failure so it’s unsure if this is a viable replacement to using a ventilator.
Despite the unknownness of CPAP machines, I believe that they are important. In people with sleep apnea, the cons may seem annoying and discomforting but the benefits it gives outweigh them by a great amount. In addition, even though there needs to be more research conducted on CPAP machines and their effect on Covid-19 patients, CPAP machines have had proven success with no glaring downsides on its user. I think that once this technology is more thoroughly researched and iterated upon, it will become invaluable to the medical community and its patients.