Obstructive sleep apnea is often treated by using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device. CPAP manages other sleep-related breathing disorders as well, such as hypoventilation and hypoxemia. CPAP titration is necessary every year or two, since it is common for patients to need pressure changes during the CPAP therapy process. VirtualSleep.org provides information about obstructive sleep apnea testing and treatment methods, including CPAP titration.
What is a CPAP Titration Study?
CPAP titration is a type of in-lab study used to calibrate CPAP therapy. Physician recommendations often vary, but patients generally require a CPAP titration every year or two. This is beneficial for finding the right amount of air pressure to prevent the patient’s upper airway from becoming blocked. As a result, this eliminates breathing pauses during sleep.
What to Expect in a CPAP Titration Study
Sleep apnea patients who have not had a CPAP titration may be anxious about the process. However, there will not be any other patients in the room during the study. The patient is given time to settle in before the study, and the room includes a bathroom and sometimes a television to watch.
Ensure CPAP Mask Fit
The fitting process is an important first step of the CPAP titration study. Upon arrival for the study, the patient is fitted with a nasal mask connected to a small electric unit by a tube. If there are any air leaks around the edges of the mask or if it is uncomfortable, patients will need to inform the technologist.
The electric unit has a fan that blows air through the tube into the patient’s mask. This is critical for the CPAP titration study since the air gently blows into the back of the throat when wearing the mask. The technologist will remotely adjust the air pressure at certain periods of time throughout the night, starting at a low level and gradually increasing to find the proper amount.
Find the Right Pressure for the Sleep Machine
CPAP pressure settings are measured in centimeters of water pressure (cmH2O). Most CPAP machines can go as high as 25 cmH2O, but this is too high for the average patient. The average setting is 10 cmH2O, and the majority of patients fall between the range of 6 and 15 cmH2O. Regular CPAP titration is necessary to monitor the pressure and make adjustments as needed over time.
Once the CPAP device is properly set with the correct pressure, the treatment will be effective for the patient. If pressure is too low, a patient can experience more apnea events than normal and other symptoms like snoring or gasping for air. On the contrary, patients can experience nasal congestion and interrupted sleep with pressure that is too high. This is why it is critical to identity and maintain the correct amount of pressure for the CPAP device.
Parts of the CPAP Machine
CPAP machines include several components to help treat obstructive sleep apnea. Masks, motors, and tubing are three essential parts of every machine. A CPAP titration ensures calibrated pressure so the CPAP machine is most effective.
Patients wear a CPAP mask during the night over their nose and sometimes over their mouth. The masks connect to a small machine with a hose, which is properly fitted during a CPAP titration study. The machine pumps pressured air into the patient’s airway through the mask to keep it open during sleep.
Physicians typically recommend nasal CPAP masks, nasal pillows, or full face CPAP masks. Nasal masks work better than nasal pillows for higher pressure settings but are not a good choice for mouth breathers. Nasal pillows may be recommended for patients who have a lot of facial hair or experience claustrophobia when wearing larger masks. Full face masks are more effective for mouth breathers or patients with allergies.
In CPAP machines, the motor operates a constant-speed blower. Since the device is placed directly beside a patient’s bed, it is crucial that the motor noise is at a low level so it does not disturb the patient while sleeping.
Many machines come equipped with small low-power sensorless motors. These stand out for low noise and vibration levels, are incorporated directly in the device, and eliminate the need for bulky and expensive soundproofing materials. The motor is an important part of the machine but noise must be kept to a minimum.
CPAP Hose and Tubing
A CPAP hose is a cylindrical hollow plastic tube that connects the machine to the mask. Air is compressed in the machine at the proper setting, as determined by the CPAP titration study. This air is then delivered through the hose to the mask.
Most machines come with six feet of tubing, but other types are also available. A heated hose maintains air temperature as the air travels from the machine to the mask in order to prevent air from condensing into droplets inside of the tubing.
Learn More About DreamClear with VirtualSleep.org
Sleep labs are looking to optimize operations around the country. Given that sleep apnea affects over 26% of adults ages 30-70 in the United States, bringing the sleep lab equipment home for a home sleep test can save both patients and providers time and money.
A home sleep test device that’s easy-to-use and connects patients and doctors with a smartphone application can be the difference in quickly reaching a sleep apnea diagnosis. To learn more about using DreamClear™, start a conversation with our team today.