Positive airway pressure helps prevent your air passage from collapsing during sleep by delivering compressed air (not to be confused with oxygen) through a mask on your nose and/or mouth. This helps prevent apneas, allowing your body to rest more deeply.
Most PAP therapy machines require electricity, although there are mobile versions that use batteries. Your Duke sleep doctor will likely prescribe a PAP machine that records and wirelessly transmits data back to them about your machine’s use, air pressure, and more. This allows your doctor to make adjustments remotely, and simplifies your follow-up visits.
Continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, therapy is the most common and most effective treatment for sleep apnea. CPAP machines deliver a steady stream of pressurized air as you inhale and exhale during sleep.
Bi-level positive airway pressure, or BiPAP, machines provide higher-pressure air when you inhale and a lower pressure when you exhale. BiPAP therapy may feel more natural and might be easier to adjust to than CPAP, but it’s usually reserved for people who have central sleep apnea, cannot tolerate CPAP therapy, or have more complex sleep apnea.
As one of the newer PAP options available, adaptive-servo ventilation (ASV) adapts in real-time to your breathing patterns. When it detects a change in breathing, it adjusts to promote continued breathing and then returns to support normal breathing patterns. As such, it may be even more comfortable than BiPAP therapy.
Getting Started with PAP Therapy
With any type of PAP therapy, it will take some time for you to adjust. Our team of PAP coordinators help you find a PAP mask that is both comfortable and effective, order supplies, and learn how to use and maintain your machine. You can call or message our coordinators to ask questions from home, or you can make an appointment to talk to them in person to work through any issues.