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CPAP is an acronym for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. CPAP is the industry standard for treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea also known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome or OSA.
What is OSA? As we sleep most muscles in our bodies relax. In some people, muscles lose their tone in the upper airway. This causes the muscles to relax onto them. Others have loose tissue which hangs or crowds the airway. Either way this causes crowding or blocking of the airway. This “obstruction” of the airway results in apneas. Apnea is defined as "cessation of breath." People who suffer from OSA can stop breathing or have shallow breathing (hypopneas) episodes many times in an hour.
Apneas are hard on the body. Over time, if OSA is not treated it can cause multiple health problems including heart disease and stroke due to a loss of oxygen.
CPAP keeps the airway open using pressurized air. It is like a splint. The pressurized air is what keeps the airway from collapsing and keeps the tissues from blocking the airway. The air pressure is delivered from the CPAP to the user using a CPAP mask.
Think of this analogy. Picture a balloon. While awake your airway is open and filled with air. You have no difficulty breathing because your muscles are tight and toned. This is a balloon filled with air. While asleep your airway sags and droops because your muscles are relaxed. You stop breathing because the tissues have collapsed and are now blocking the airway. This is a deflated balloon.
CPAP blows air into your airway keeping the airway open. The air pressure does not allow the tissues to collapse and block the airway.
Adding a heated humidifier to your CPAP will make your treatment much more tolerable. Having dry pressurized air blowing into your airway all night long can leave your tissues irritated. This irritation can cause a sore throat or runny nose. Humidity will prevent these symptoms from occurring.
Can I travel by plane with my CPAP? Yes! CPAP machines are made so small and lightweight these days that traveling with your CPAP is easy. You need to carry your CPAP onto the plane with you to avoid any damage to your device. As part of the Americans with Disability Act your CPAP machine is not allowed to be counted as a carry on. It is a medical device. There are some carriers that even allow you to use your CPAP in flight. Please check with your carrier for details.
Can I camp with my CPAP? Yes. There is a model of CPAP Transcend that runs on a battery that is charged with a portable solar panel. Battery packs are available for many models.