Like most fields of medicine, the study of sleep-disordered breathing is an ever-evolving field. We know much more about sleep disorders — including sleep apnea — than we did even ten years ago, and the the quality of treatment for these conditions has improved in lockstep. One of the major beneficiaries of this trend is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy.
Since CPAP was invented in the early 1980’s, the industry has undergone a number of transformations. Through it all, we’ve seen steady improvements in the quality of equipment and the odds that patients will increase their compliance with the therapy. This is important: sleep apnea is a debilitating condition, and as more and more people are diagnosed with OSA every year, an effective solution for treating the disease becomes increasingly important.
Fortunately, CPAP is in better shape than ever. Seemingly every year, we see new improvements to masks, machines, or other equipment. To put it simply, there have never been more people invested in making CPAP both comfortable and functional. Read on for five reasons why there’s never been a better time to wear a CPAP machine.
1. Machine Comfort Features
Most premier machines — including the 60 series from Respironics as well as the AirSense and S9 lines from ResMed — come with several comfort features that either delay the onset of pressure until you’re fast asleep or reduce the amount of pressure upon exhalation. These features help you adjust to therapy by limiting some of the more unpleasant features inherent in CPAP.
2. Advancements in Humidification
While CPAP humidifiers are nothing new, they are smaller and more effective than ever. Once much clunkier than the machines themselves, humidifiers are now small and transportable enough to fit on travel CPAP machines. As a bonus, patients who use their humidifier in conjunction with a heated breathing tube can experience all of the benefits of humidity without having to deal with rainout.
3. Lighter CPAP Masks
Naturally, CPAP masks will get lighter over time, and it’d be silly to think that we’ll never see anything lighter than the Pico or the AirFit. But both are extremely lightweight masks and each has been designed to seal effectively. In 1990, your CPAP mask may have looked like a football helmet; the AirFit’s and Pico’s of today, however, weigh less than a pound.
4. Hygienic CPAP
It’s never been easier to clean your equipment and ensure a sanitary therapy experience every single night. Water chambers and tubes are often robust enough to withstand the dishwasher, and masks are made from waterproof material that allows you to simply give it a scrub in the shower. Between that and items like the SoClean — which cleans your equipment with oxygen — it’s never been quicker or easier to clean your CPAP gear.
5. Aesthetic Improvements
While this may not seem all that important, it’s worth mentioning just how much better CPAP equipment looks than it used to. Gone are the days of the Bane masks and ugly devices: the AirSense 10 (pictured above) looks more like an iPod docking station than a CPAP machine!
If you’re a CPAP patient, or if you’ve tried it before but found it ineffective, take heart from these five reasons why CPAP is better than ever. CPAP compliance has never been easier: if you’ve given up your CPAP therapy before, hopefully these developments will inspire you to give it one more shot.