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What Is an Auto CPAP Machine?

With an auto CPAP machine, air pressure is provided at a customized, regularly adjusted level.
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  • Written By: Niki Foster
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 05 April 2014
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An automatic continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, also known as an APAP or AutoPAP machine, is a device used to treat sleep apnea. The Auto CPAP machine is designed to provide air pressure at a customized, regularly adjusted level, while the traditional CPAP machine provides air pressure at a constant level. A machine of this kind, like any CPAP machine, must be prescribed by one's doctor.

Sleep apnea is a condition in which the patient's airway becomes constricted during sleep, leading to difficulty breathing. Sleep apnea deprives the body of oxygen, leading to a lack of restful sleep, fatigue during the day, and loud snoring. CPAP machines are one of the most common treatments for sleep apnea. They fit over the nose, or over the nose and mouth, and provide continuous air pressure to keep the airway open, facilitating breathing during sleep.

An auto CPAP machine improves on the original CPAP design by adjusting the air pressure level to each breath the patient takes. It automatically titrates, or adjusts, the air pressure delivered for each breath to be the minimum necessary to keep the airway open. Traditional CPAP machines are titrated by a physician after observing the patient during sleep, and determining the average air pressure level needed in order to keep the airway open through the night. Even if an auto CPAP machine is not prescribed for a particular patient, it may be used during overnight observation in order to aid in the titration of a traditional CPAP machine.

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An auto CPAP machine can be more comfortable than a continuous pressure model, because the air pressure remains low unless breathing becomes difficult. Some sleep apnea sufferers, for instance, only have difficulty breathing during the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep, and do not require high air pressure during the rest of the sleep cycle. These machines may also have humidifiers connected to them to keep the airway moist.

While auto CPAP machines are more sophisticated than regular CPAP machines, they are not the best option for every patient. It is important to determine one's particular needs through discussion with a physician. Neither type of CPAP machine is inherently better, or more effective, than the other at reducing the complications of sleep apnea. The type of CPAP machine chosen is typically the one that best addresses the particular patient's needs and provides him or her with the most comfortable sleep.

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Discuss this Article

Misscoco
Post 4

One of my neighbors has had sleep apnea for a long time. She is a female. I don't know how many more men than women have sleep apnea. Anyway, she tried a CPAP machine, but couldn't tolerate it.

She heard about a dentist who makes a dental appliance that is gradually adjusted to the point that it pulls back the chin and this keeps the airway clear. It is more convenient than the CPAP and if chin position is the problem, it seems to work well, when worn all night.

Bertie68
Post 3

My step son has been treated for sleep apnea for a number of years. He went to a sleep center and had a sleep study. These studies are pretty expensive, but are helpful in diagnosing sleep apnea and setting up the CPAP machine for the person.

He doesn't wake up at night, but he's tired the next day. It kind of looks like he's not getting enough oxygen and proper sleep during the night.

I think there are a variety of reasons why the airway gets blocked. One doctor told my step son that he thought the cause for him was that he had a large tongue that relaxed and slid back blocking the airway.

Not much can be done for a big tongue! I don't know if he wears a regular CPAP or an automatic one. I hope they find some better treatments for sufferers of sleep apnea.

NathanG
Post 2

@hamje32 - I think I have sleep apnea, and from what I’ve read it tends to coincide with weight gain. I put on some pounds awhile back and noticed that I would have difficulty breathing in the night and would sometimes snore very loudly.

When the breathing got real bad I went to the doctor because I thought I had a heart problem but they ruled that out after running a battery of tests. It was only later that I learned it was sleep apnea.

Like your friend, I can’t afford a CPAP sleep machine, not until the prices drop, so I too will have to adjust sleeping positions to see if that helps.

hamje32
Post 1

I know two people at work who were diagnosed with sleep apnea and they both were hooked up to a C-PAP machine. The technician would monitor their sleeping patterns, recording when they went in and out of REM sleep and watching the oxygen levels as air pressure was being applied at the correct intervals.

One guy described the CPAP headgear and how it was used to open his air passages from time to time to allow air to flow unobstructed. Overall he said it was a good experience, but of course for home use these units are quite expensive so he just thanked them for their time after the clinical trial and went his merry way.

They just recommended that he try sleeping on his side and see if that helped relieve his sleep apnea symptoms.

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