Yes, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is a type of noninvasive ventilation (NIV). Noninvasive ventilation is a method of providing breathing or respiratory support to a patient without the establishment of any invasive airway (such as an endotracheal tube), which needs more maintenance.
Noninvasive ventilation is of two broad types:
- positive pressure ventilation
- negative pressure ventilation
CPAP is a type of positive pressure ventilation, which means that it delivers oxygen to the lungs by creating a positive pressure that forces air inside the airways. Another common type of positive pressure ventilation is called continuous bi-level positive airway pressure (BPAP).
Negative pressure ventilation involves creating a negative pressure that sucks air into the lungs through a device that encases the chest and neck. The preferred mode of assisted ventilation these days is positive pressure ventilation.
What is CPAP used for?
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is used to provide breathing support to patients suffering from diseases, such as:
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Respiratory failure
- Congestive heart failure
- Pulmonary edema
- Lung collapse or atelectasis
- Chronic lung diseases, such as chronic bronchitis and pulmonary fibrosis
- Certain lung infections
- Respiratory distress syndrome in infants
- Neuromuscular conditions, such as spinal muscular atrophy
How does CPAP work?
The continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) consists of three main parts:
- A mask that fits over the nose and mouth
- A machine that creates positive pressure to push air into the lungs
- A tube that connects the machine to the mask thereby acting as a channel for air
This assembly ensures that air delivers continuously to the lungs. The suitable pressure at which the air will be delivered to the airways is decided through certain examinations performed by a doctor. They will select the right size and type of mask for the patient to suit their need and comfort.
The CPAP therapy provides air at a particular pressure than what is in the airways. This pushes air into the lungs and keeps the airways open. By keeping the airways open, it helps deliver oxygen to the lungs and remove carbon dioxide, thus supporting breathing in people with certain conditions that fail to keep the airways open.
CPAP therapy in suitable patients helps improve their overall health and quality of life. It has been shown to have several advantages, such as:
12 side effects that may occur with CPAP therapy
It may take some time for people to adjust to CPAP therapy. Mild discomfort, especially in the morning, is not uncommon during the initial days of the therapy.
A person must contact the doctor if they experience any of the following:
- Ill-fitting mask causing discomfort or air leaks
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Sore throat
- Dry nose
- Persistent difficulty breathing
- Chest discomfort
- Eye irritation
- Abdominal bloating
Some people may experience increased dreaming during the first few days of starting the CPAP therapy. These symptoms usually subside within a few days. If you have any concerning symptoms, you must discuss them with your doctor.
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Hoo GWS. Noninvasive Ventilation. Medscape. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/304235-overview#a2
Hill NS, Kramer NR. Types of noninvasive nocturnal ventilatory support in neuromuscular and chest wall disease. UpToDate. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/types-of-noninvasive-nocturnal-ventilatory-support-in-neuromuscular-and-chest-wall-disease
Pinto VL, Sharma S. Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. [Updated 2021 Jul 31]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482178/
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