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CPAP Machines on the NHS

CPAP machines are used in the treatment of moderate to severe sleep apnoea. They prevent the collapse of the airway whilst the sufferer sleeps by holding it open by passing a continuous flow of pressurised air through the windpipe. The pressurised air is generated by a machine and passed to the windpipe via a plastic tube and a mask worn flush against the skin over the nose and mouth.

If your doctor decides that CPAP machines should be used to treat your sleep apnoea then it will be because your condition is so severe that lifestyle changes alone are not enough to make a difference. Your CPAP device will be available on the NHS, so you will not have to pay for it.

When you first try using CPAP machines, you may find them uncomfortable or even very unpleasant and you may even be tempted to give up using them altogether. Try to persevere as people do tend to find that they become accustomed to their use quite quickly. There are also options available to patients who find the masks uncomfortable: they can for example offer different types of mask. CPAP Masks

The problems facing patients today are less than in the past. A number of different types of masks are available to choose from, meaning that patients can keep trying until they find the right mask for them. Modern CPAP machines now also feature humidifiers which keep the air that is passed down the windpipe more humid, preventing unwelcome side effects such as nose bleeds, sore throats and general dryness. Furthermore, the discomfort caused by the pressurised air itself has been addressed with the development of CPAP machines with varying pressure so that over the first hour or so of use the air pressure gradually builds up to full power, allowing the patient to comfortably fall asleep first.

The side effects that are still associated with sleep apnoea despite these improvements include nasal congestion, headaches and ear pain as well as stomach pain and flatulence. However, it is rare for any of these effects to be too severe or long lasting.

Whilst CPAP treatment is far from perfect, it is still considered to be the golden standard in sleep apnoea treatment. It is proven to improve sleep, prevent apnoeas, reduce blood pressure and even reduces the risk of stroke by 40%, redressing the balance of stroke risk amongst sleep apnoea sufferers.

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