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The Health Benefits of PAP Device Use

Countless people across the globe suffer from the sleeping condition obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and a large percentage of these are not even aware of the fact.

The condition causes intermittent breathing pauses as the muscles in the throat relax and soft tissues move to a position to partially or completely block the air passage.

To combat the sudden lack of oxygen, the brain reacts by alerting the body to the problem and the sufferer is briefly awoken while the situation is rectified.

Widely acknowledged as the best method of treatment for obstructive sleep apnea, PAP (positive airway pressure) therapy is usually recommended.

But not all OSA sufferers are convinced of its effectiveness, view it as uncomfortable, and are unwilling to try what has been demonstrably shown to be the best method of treatment.

Any concerns regarding the use of PAP devices should be laid aside immediately. Not only does PAP therapy improve the quality of sleep but the knock-on effects and benefits of PAP machine use can be life-altering.

PAP Therapy

PAP therapy works by delivering a steady stream of pressurized air to the mouth and/or nose via a system of tubing and a mask. The pressurized air prevents the soft tissues in the throat from shifting position and possibly blocking the air passage.

This ensures the sleeper is not constantly being awoken (which can occur dozens and even hundreds of times per night) and an uninterrupted, quality sleep can be enjoyed.

Obviously, a good night's rest is the goal and beneficial in its own right but there are other positive outcomes to using a PAP device. These range from simple (and almost immediate) results to long-term health benefits:

Immediate Results

It can take a new user a few days or weeks to get used to the new PAP device but from day one there are noticeable results for obstructive sleep apnea sufferers:

Better Sleep. Snoring is one of the most common tell-tale signs of OSA but the use of a PAP device can all but eliminate this problem leading to better sleep quality for both the sufferer and any sleeping partner.

Decrease in Morning Headaches. Lack of proper sleep combined with snoring often results in a morning headache. This can largely be prevented with a steady flow of oxygen provided by PAP devices.

Less Daytime Drowsiness. Unsurprisingly, a lack of sleep will lead to daytime drowsiness, lapses of concentration and a lack of energy. Regular nightly use of a PAP device will restore energy levels to what they should be thus increasing alertness and concentration.

Improved Mental Health. A 2014 study revealed that more than 50% of the participants with sleeping disorders suffered from mental health issues including anxiety and depression. A more recent research paper found that PAP therapy considerably alleviates cases of anxiety and depression among OSA sufferers.

Increased Productivity. Improvements in mental well-being combined with increased concentration levels can only help improve productivity.

Fewer Accidents. Thanks to the increases in daily levels of alertness and concentration, fewer minor and major accidents are likely to occur. This is particularly true of vehicular accidents where more than 800,000 car accidents were attributed to sleep apnea causes in the year 2000.

Improved Relationships. Untreated OSA sufferers can often be moody and withdrawn leading to conflicts with a partner, family and friends. These side effects can be overcome when sleeping quality is improved with the use of CPAP treatment.

Sleeping well leads to a better quality of life and the benefits of CPAP machine use can be noticed in a relatively short period of time. However, these pale almost to insignificance compared to some of the long-term health benefits of CPAP treatment.

Long-Term Health Benefits

Left untreated, OSA can cause or lead to serious medical conditions. These include heart and lung problems as well as increased risk of stroke or diabetes. Among the main long-term health benefits of PAP device use are:

Reversal of High Blood Pressure. PAP therapy has been shown to help lower high blood pressure problems for OSA sufferers and even reverse existing blood pressure levels.

Lower Risk of Stroke. There is evidence to suggest that obstructive sleep apnea damages blood vessels leading to strokes. Research also shows that untreated OSA increases the risk of stroke by over 85%.

Reduced Risk of Diabetes. An estimated 18% of patients diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes also suffer with OSA and the percentage climbs steeply for those patients who are obese. The connection is believed to be due to the increased carbon dioxide caused by the interrupted sleep associated with OSA which can be greatly reduced with the use of a PAP device.

While these are significant benefits there is no doubt that the improvement in heart health and functionality is the greatest.

Improved Heart Function

One of the greatest long-term health benefits of PAP device use is improved heart function. OSA puts additional strain on the heart as it struggles to circulate sufficient oxygen around the body to function properly.

Over time this can lead to many heart problems and conditions including irregular heartbeat, arterial disease, atrial fibrillation, heart attack and heart failure.

Research is ongoing but results to date seem to confirm that using CPAP therapy significantly reduces the stress put on the heart by obstructive sleep apnea and its related pauses in breathing. Already, PAP treatment has been linked to a decrease in new cases of heart problems in adults of all ages and particularly more in OSA sufferers over the age of sixty.

This is all good news for OSA sufferers and can only get better as PAP therapy continues to evolve and improve. Although, as yet, there is no cure for obstructive sleep apnea it can be successfully controlled and good health promoted and maintained thanks to the many benefits of CPAP device use!

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