Getting CPAP Right

in Patient

I read an interesting article really which really challenged my perceptions of CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) as a rather dry subject by comparing it with the world of dating. Whilst you could be forgiven for thinking that a truly unbelievable analogy, look a little closer and you will soon see why. I had to give it to the author of the article: getting CPAP right is like dating.

CPAP isn't to every patient's taste, but it is the best treatment we have for a disorder whose consequences in the long term can be devastating. For this reason, doctors must try and ensure patients keep up their treatment when so many of them find it disagreeable or difficult to become used to. The mask that patients use with their device can be the difference between long term success on the treatment and its failure and this is where the dating analogy comes in. Just as very few people fall in love at first sight, there are no guarantees that the first type of mask a patient uses will be ‘the one' for them. Patients often try one type of mask which they find unpleasant and disregard the treatment entirely. Any doctor or nurse would rather their patient came back to them asking to try other variations until they meet ‘the one' than give up on their treatment entirely.

There are three main types of mask that patients can try: nasal, full face and nasal pillow. Each has its own benefits and disadvantages and it stands to reason that what one patient finds comfortable and beneficial will not be the right choice for another patient: just as with dating what one person finds attractive in a partner, others may not.

 Nasal CPAP masks are the standard mask generally tried out first by most sufferers of sleep apnoea. It is worn over only the nose and the attached CPAP machine may feature a humidifier to prevent the nasal passages from becoming blocked, dry and painful.

 The full face mask is worn over the whole face and is becoming more and more popular, despite it having a couple of major disadvantages. The fact it is worn over so much of the face means that it is more difficult to get it to fit snugly on all patients and tweaks and fittings may be needed on several occasions. It is also problematic for men with beards, as the seal can be broken by facial hair.

 Finally the nasal pillow design creates a seal within the nostrils themselves and is therefore smaller and less cumbersome for patients. For this reason it is popular amongst patients for whom other masks have failed.



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Jess Moss has 1 articles online
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Getting CPAP Right

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This article was published on 2011/09/27