Every human body is unique, so it makes sense that CPAP therapy isn’t simply a one-size-fits-all treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. Air pressure settings are adjustable, and what works for one patient may not be very effective for another. If you’re putting the effort into CPAP therapy, you want to actually notice a difference in your sleep health, right?
Read on to learn all about how CPAP pressure is determined. (Editor’s Note: We recommend playing Under Pressure by Queen and David Bowie in the background while you’re at it. For science.)
Calculating Titrated Pressure
Sleep apnea is typically diagnosed during an overnight sleep study, allowing doctors to also perform a titration, which determines the ideal CPAP pressure setting. Two birds, one stone. During a titration, the doctor will test varying air pressures while assessing the severity of apneas that occur in different sleep stages and sleeping positions. The goal is simple: find the setting that eliminates the most apnea events.
Your sleep apnea may not present the same way now as it does a year from now. Just think of how much can change in a year! Most doctors recommend follow-up titrations once every year or two—or perhaps more frequently if you have other health conditions.
That said, you know your body best since you’re the one living inside it, so if you notice that your sleep apnea symptoms are back with a vengeance, talk to your doctor to determine if you need a CPAP pressure adjustment. He or she may suggest doing your next titration sooner.
You may benefit from an auto-CPAP, also called an APAP. Auto-CPAPs track the resistance in your airway as you sleep and adjust the air pressure automatically depending on your ongoing needs. This helps to ensure that you’re getting the exact right amount of CPAP pressure at all times.
It’s important to remember that when we talk about how CPAP pressure is determined, we’re talking about several factors that can only be accurately assessed by a doctor. You may feel like a sleep apnea expert at this point, but avoid the urge to adjust your CPAP pressure setting on your own unless you’ve been explicitly advised otherwise.