An Explanation of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)

Dr. John Krehlik has practiced sleep medicine for more than 30 years. In that time, Dr. John Krehlik has introduced many patients to the potential benefits of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy.

Designed to keep the throat open during sleep, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment depends on a machine that provides a steady stream of air. The machine runs on a motor that sends air through a tube, which in turn connects to a mask that fits over the patient’s nose and mouth or nose alone. The type of mask depends on the patient’s needs and preferences, though the nasal mask is the most common.

Physicians most often prescribe this treatment for chronic obstructive sleep apnea, though research has shown that it can also effectively treat infants with underdeveloped lungs, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, or respiratory distress syndrome. When used to treat sleep apnea, it can decrease blood pressure as well as daytime sleepiness. It is typically effective in controlling snoring and preserving quality of sleep for both the patient and his or her household, while also protecting some sleep apnea patients against heart conditions that arise secondary to coronary artery disease.

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Treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Board certified in sleep medicine by the American Board of Internal Medicine, Dr. John Krehlik currently maintains sleep medicine practices in Juneau and Anchorage, Alaska. Dr. John Krehlik offers several conservative treatments for obstructive sleep apnea, including CPAP therapy and oral appliances.

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is a treatment modality administered through a mask that fits over the mouth and nose during sleep. The CPAP machine delivers gentle air pressure into the airway to prevent it from collapsing during the night, ensuring proper breathing and more restful sleep. Many physicians consider CPAP to be one of the most effective ways of treating obstructive sleep apnea.

For patients who find the CPAP apparatus bulky and uncomfortable, oral appliances may be another effective option. Custom fitted by a dentist who is experienced in sleep apnea treatment, these appliances look much like the mouth guards worn by athletes. The devices are worn at night and work by pulling the lower jaw and tongue forward. This slight change in the positioning of the lower jaw keeps the airway open for unobstructed breathing.