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The CPAP mask: a solution to sleep apnea

Wearing a nasal mask to bed every night may not seem like an appealing proposition for some, but for sufferers of sleep apnea , the alternative is far worse.

Wearing a nasal mask to bed every night may not seem like an appealing proposition for some, but for sufferers of sleep apnea, the alternative is far worse.

"The first-line treatment of sleep apnea is a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine,” says Paul Sweeney, a Registered Respitory Therapist and President of Coastal Sleep, a sleep clinic with six locations on the Lower Mainland. "You wear a mask over your nose and it blows air pressure into your throat to prevent the tongue from collapsing and blocking the airway."

Anyone who tried the CPAP mask and machinery in the past probably remembers the loud sound and heavy mask.

"Most of our patients are pleasantly surprised with the latest changes to the masks," Paul says, "The machines are very quiet now and the masks are quite small in comparison to a decade ago. The machines used to be big, bulky, and noisy. Now they're so small you can hardly hear them."

They’ve also become smarter.

"A lot of the machines now connect to a website and send results to a smart phone," Paul explains. "Like everything else, the technology has advanced amazingly."

Paul and his team at Coastal Sleep offer a patient-focused approach to addressing the issue of sleep apnea.

"We spend a lot of time educating our patients before we send them home with a mask," Paul says. "The reality is that CPAP helps patients feel better. They're less tired and more engaged with life. They usually see the benefits as outweighing any perceived inconvenience."

Coastal Sleep provides diagnostic testing and treatment for sleep apnea at their six locations throughout the Lower Mainland. After an initial consultation and testing in the comfort of your own home, Coastal Sleep offers a complimentary trial of a CPAP mask and equipment to ensure the correct fit—and to make sure it relieves the patient’s symptoms.

"If you are unable to tolerate CPAP," Paul says, "a second option is an oral device that pulls the jaw forward. We work with a local dentist to help patients, though it's not an optimal solution."

While surgery for the removal of large tonsils or redundant throat tissue is also an option, it is generally used in the case of children and young adults.

"Surgery tends to be less effective in the case of adults," says Paul.

For more information about the variety of CPAP masks available in the Vancouver area, call Coastal Sleep at 604.279.9066, visit their website or send them an email. There is a Coastal Sleep facility in Vancouver located at 103-511 West 7th Avenue. Coastal Sleep can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.