First time CPAP users might get the feeling that getting accustomed to their CPAP therapy will take many months, if ever. Questions arise about how to endure the CPAP pressure for a few hours, let alone a complete night. A typical ritual for a new CPAP user is to set up the CPAP mask and bed, read manuals, blog sites and adjust your sleeping position. Once the mask is adjusted and connected to the CPAP machine, the pressure begins to flow. When pressure builds within the mask – even while you’re trying to exhale – it is an unnatural feeling that causes some CPAP users anxiety. CPAP
Some catchphrases are being referred to in the CPAP machine world which can cause confusion. These acronyms such as C-Flex, A-flex and EPR should be understood and can have a significant benefit to CPAP therapy. Each manufacture strives to build as many comfort features into their CPAP machine as possible. Recent examples include the heated humidifier, automatic pressure adjustments, and auto start to name a few. C-Flex, A-Flex, and EPR are also comfort features that assist in making your CPAP therapy more effective and comfortable.
Respironics has developed a comfort feature called C-Flex, which can be found on many of their CPAP machines. This pressure relief technology makes sleep therapy more comfortable by reducing pressure at the beginning of exhalation and returning to therapeutic pressure just before inhalation. The levels of pressure relief, 3 settings in all, can be adjusted by the patient. This complex algorithm senses when a CPAP users breaths out and, for an instant, automatically drops the pressure. This allows for a more natural breathing pattern and a more comfortable experience. Respironics recently improved the C-Flex design with the A-Flex version on a few machines. A-Flex is designed to further improve comfort by matching pressure delivery to the patient’s entire breathing cycle. Like C-Flex, A-Flex provides flow-based pressure relief at the beginning of exhalation. Additionally, A-Flex softens the pressure transition from inhalation to exhalation to provide additional comfort.
Resmed has developed a comfort feature called EPR (expiratory pressure relief). This exceptional pressure relief system intelligently recreates a CPAP patient’s breathing pattern so breathing feels more natural. A choice of three different EPR settings allows for a customized comfort level and can be found on newer S8 machines. So, when a CPAP user exhales, the S8 CPAP detects the beginning of exhalation and reduces motor speed to drop treatment pressure to a more natural setting.
A typical criticism of CPAP patients that do not have pressure relief technology is that it is difficult to breathe out. We have listened to hundreds of CPAP users and the overwhelming response is that A-Flex, C-Flex, and EPR, when turned on, have provided a more effective and comfortable therapy. Furthermore, if a CPAP user is not sure about how they will respond to pressure relief; the manufactures have made it completely adjustable. This allows the person to personalize or even shut off pressure relief if it is not meeting their need. Getting treatment for sleep apnea and following your doctor’s advice will improve your and your family members’ quality of life. It is also important to follow-up with your sleep medicine specialist to check whether treatment is working or adjustments are necessary.