Let’s be honest with one another. When it comes to the avoidance of things we don’t particularly like to do, we come up with all kinds of excuses. It doesn’t matter if we have the knowledge and know full well that something is good for us. We stop and don’t go. Instead of exercising, we sit on the couch to watch a “NCIS” marathon. Instead of eating a healthy green-laden salad, we stock up on re-released Twinkies. Instead of tossing the lung-cancer sticks, we buy out our fave brand by the carton when it goes on sale. Yes, we know exercising, eating healthy and throwing out cigarettes are the correct life-choice decisions. But we don’t follow through because it is difficult. And the same principle holds true for why people with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are not compliant when advised to use a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine for treatment. But what if CPAP usage was made easier and more comfortable, what then? Would a CPAP pillow help increase compliance?
Is a CPAP Pillow Really Necessary?
If you are one of the few in the minority who has been diagnosed with sleep apnea then you are aware that the unconscious stoppage of breathing for short amounts of time throughout the night is not a normal occurrence. You took that all important step in seeking treatment to prevent your sleep apnea condition from causing an increased risk in developing high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and obesity.
Viewed as the golden standard of treatment for OSA, a CPAP machine works to keep your airway free of obstruction with pressurized air. However in order for CPAP to be effective, the mask needs to fit comfortably so that the filtered air can be evenly delivered. And there’s the rub. People do not like wearing the mask to sleep. The mask and attached hose can move around during the course of the night. And if you are a person who likes to sleep on your stomach or side, well, you tend to lose the nightly battle to keep the mask in place.
So can a specially designed CPAP pillow for people who have a machine really increase compliance? For some, it can help.
How is a CPAP Pillow Different?
A CPAP pillow has special cut-out sections for the mask and associated hose. The design helps reduce the risk of the mask moving away from its intended position. Decreased risk means that the likelihood of the seal being broken goes down. The CPAP pillow is very similar to a foam pillow but takes into account the bulk of the mask and hose with its intended purpose.
Sounds too good to be true? There are some drawbacks: price, many CPAP pillows do not come with a pillowcase, for some the substances used in manufacturing can trigger a reaction (even an asthma attack) and full compliance does not occur overnight. Like most of life, it takes time to discover whether or not a CPAP pillow will make a difference or not in your comfort and hence, compliance with CPAP treatment.
If you have sleep apnea and would like to learn more about other treatment options other than CPAP, we can help. Please contact one of our medical concierges today at 1-855-863-4537 to schedule a consultation.