What You Should Know About CPAP Pressure Settings
CPAP machines are some of the most effective ways to treat obstructive sleep apnoea. Not only are these mechanisms extremely versatile, but modern designs ensure that you will experience superior levels of comfort.
It's important to understand pressure settings on your CPAP machine, as you will need to make adjustments.
Let’s examine the basics of CPAP machines and their pressure settings.
Firstly, there are two types of CPAP machines:
Automatic CPAP Machines are the most popular form of CPAP therapy. They use a range of advanced sensors to detect exactly how much pressure you need at any given time. When there is no danger, the pressure is kept low; when an apnoea is likely to occur, the pressure is increased to stave it off. The result? Lower pressures overall than a fixed-pressure machine, no compromise on settings, and overall more accurate therapy.
Fixed-Pressure CPAP Machines were the original form of CPAP therapy and are still used by thousands of CPAP patients worldwide. A fixed-pressure machine is just that; a pressure that stays at one constant pressure at all times. This pressure is usually prescribed by your doctor or sleep clinic. If you do not have a prescribed pressure (most people do not), then please instead look at an auto CPAP machine.
How does the pressure from a CPAP machine work?
Auto:This machine is set on a range of pressures (i.e. 4.0cmh20-20cmh20). When you put your mask on and then turn the machine on it will start at a pressure of 4.0cmh20. The pressure will stay at this figure until you go to sleep. Once the machine detects that you are asleep, then the machine will increase and decrease the pressure within the pressure range as and when you need it. As these machines work of a range of pressure, the pressure settings should not need to be adjusted.
Should you wake up during the night with a high amount of pressure, this can be caused by breaking the seal of your face on your face when you move in your sleep. The machine will detect an air leak and increase the pressure to compensate the air leak. If this happens, then just press your ramp button on your CPAP machine and this will take the pressure back down to 4.0cmh20. This will allow you to adjust your mask, get comfortable and allow you to settle back down to sleep.
Fixed pressure:This machine is set on a specific pressure setting and is constant. From the moment you turn the machine on, to when you turn the CPAP machine off. Should you feel the symptom of OSA creeping back in, or feel that you CPAP machine is not working as well as it was, then please talk to your CPAP provider to ask them to look at your data to see if your pressure settings need to be adjusted.
Most CPAP machines have a ramp button on the CPAP machines. It is normally near the power on/off button and has a triangle on it’s side on the button. This feature is designed to make the start your CPAP therapy more comfortable. The ramp time is CPAP user specific, and is a period of time during which the therapy pressure increases from a low start pressure to a prescribe/required pressure setting. CPAP users can set this to between 5 and 45 minutes, or it can be switched off.
Why are Pressure Settings Important?
Pressure settings are important, as we need to ensure that each CPAP user gets the require pressure to help reduce/stop sleep apnoea events. The target AHI (events per hour) with a CPAP machine is 5 or under. Should your AHI number not be near the target AHI, then it is worth reviewing your CPAP data to see of there is anything you can do to reduce your AHI. A higher AHI can be down to a mask, or the wrong mask.
At Intus Healthcare we are happy to review any of our customers data that purchase a CPAP machine from us. We always suggest to new CPAP user to send us their data after 1 months of use. If any existing CPAP users have issues with CPAP equipment then again as long as they have at least 10-14 nights of data, we are happy to review the data to see if we can help them improve the CPAP therapy they are getting, or see if there is an issue we can help them resolve.
How can CPAP masks affect the pressure?
- Mask Type
There are 2 types of masks.
Nasal (cushions or pillows) – these are for people who breathe exclusively through their nose only
Full Face – these are for people who breathe through their nose and mouth
If you were to purchase a nasal mask, but breathe through your nose and mouth, then the air pressure going in your nose will come out of your mouth rather than keeping your airway open
- Mask Size
We always suggest to customer to ensure they use the sizing guide specific to the mask they have selected, and ensure they measure their face to ensure they purchase the right size mask for their face. The better the fit, the better the seal of the mask on the face, which equals better CPAP therapy with minimal leaks.
- Mask Fit
If you are struggling to get a good seal with your mask, then we suggest the following
Check the sizing guide to ensure you have the right size mask for your face
Watch a fitting video for your mask online, to see if this help you ensure you are adjusting your mask and wearing it correctly.
Adjust your mask in the lying down position as you face is a different shape lying down to sitting up
RemZzzs Mask Liners - These are a soft cotton fabric liner creates a barrier, absorbs skin oils and reduces air leaks as well as skin irritation and pressure marks. Try a sample pack for just £6.99
- Mask Seal
If you knock your mask whiles moving in your sleep, then this can break the seal, which results in the CPAP machine increasing the pressure to compensate for the air leak. Simple press the ramp button to reduce the pressure. Adjust your mask, and then you can settle back down to sleep.
If you’ve got any questions about your CPAP device or pressure settings, contact us at Intus Healthcare, and we will be happy to help. You can also contact your sleep physician for more guidance on using your CPAP. Our goal, always, is to ensure you get optimal use from your CPAP therapy -- so you get restorative sleep you deserve.
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