Types of Sleep Apnea Machines

Sleep apnea machines exist as a treatment or 'cure' for people suffering from sleep apnea. The most common form of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea in which the airway collapses during sleep or something like the soft palate obstructs the airway so that patients can't breath regularly while sleeping. The objective of a sleep apnea machine is to provide a flow of air into the patient's airways, thus keeping the airways open and allowing the patient to breath properly throughout the night. This air pressure ensures that the upper airway passage is left open to prevent apneas (pauses in breathing) as well as snoring.

The most widely used type of these sleep apnea machines is the CPAP or continuous positive airway pressure masks. CPAP masks come in three different varieties:

  1. Full Mask - where a mask covers the patient's nose and mouth

  2. Nasal Mask - where a mask covers just the patient's nose

  3. Nasal Pillow - where tubes are inserted slightly into the patient's nostrils

CPAP Sleep Apnea Machine

The machine is fitted with a medical pump joined to a tube, which is then connected to a full mask, nasal mask or nasal pillow.

Initially, it's common for someone using CPAP devices to experience discomfort while getting used to the device. In many instances, users find that they are so uncomfortable sleeping with a sleep apnea machine that they simply stop using it. However, advances in technology, design and comfort have brought forth new machines for sleep apnea that are much quieter and more comfortable. Some of the first devices on the market were very uncomfortable and cumbersome and didn't allow the user any movement during sleep. The newer machines allow users the option to sleep on their sides or backs - as the devices are made in such a way as to move with the user.

Resmed masks are masks manufactured by the company Resmed Inc, a "global leader in the development, manufacturing and marketing of innovative medical products for the treatment and management of respiratory disorders, with a focus on sleep-disordered breathing." They manufacture a wide variety of masks and even make specially designed CPAP masks for men, woman and children. You can find out more about Resmed masks here.

Although the most common of the sleep apnea machines are CPAP devices . there are, however, other types of machines that don't provide continuous positive airway pressure. There is the APAP autotitration device, which automatically detects and decreases pressure when the upper airway is stable and then increases pressure in response to events such as apneas and snoring.

Also, there is a device that is not generally used for obstructive sleep apnea patients unless they have trouble sleeping with a CPAP device called a bi-level or VPAP (variable positive airway pressure) device. This device has an electronic monitoring circuit which outputs two pressures - a low exhaling pressure and a higher inhaling pressure. These machines are utilized for a plethora of conditions other than sleep apnea including neurological disorders, chest wall deformity, upper airway disorders, lung disease and acute respiratory failure.

For central sleep apnea sufferers and complex sleep apnea syndrome, there are also servo-ventilator devices which automatically monitor the patients ventilatory needs on a breath by breath basis and adjusts the pressure accordingly.