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After a visitor to your doctor and the prescription of a CPAP machine, suddenly you’re thrown into a world of medical jargon that can be confusing and bewildering. Though most specialists aim to make this process as seamless as possible, there are occasions when the terms used that won’t make sense. In this article, we debunk some of the most used medical terminologies about CPAP machines and treatments, helping you understand your treatments and equipment better.
Most specialists will refer to the continuous positive airway pressure as CPAP; we commonly know these as the personal machines found in the home, supporting your breathing during the night. What this machine aims to do is provide you with continuous pressure to your upper airway, which keeps it open during sleep, allowing you to breathe normally.
Cushion or Pillow
The use of the terms cushion and pillow often confuse CPAP users, as these reference everyday household items used for sleep. However, these terms specifically address parts of the CPAP machine, the area that contacts the face which is on the seal of the mask. This cushion is essential to the mask’s operation, as it seals the air in and keeps the apparatus stable on the face.
Medical professionals often use the terms ‘events’ to describe many types of episodes or occasions when the patient suffers from their condition. There are generally two types of events for sleep apnea sufferers. The first is apnea events, in which the patient stops breathing during sleep, usually for more than ten seconds or longer. The second refers to mask events, when the mask disconnects from the face, becomes broken, or breaks during use. Events may also reference any other issues you have with your condition or the CPAP machine, and may not be about anything specific.
Types of mask
When discussing your CPAP machine with your doctor and technician, they will refer to different types of sleeping masks, typically asking your preference for your style of sleeping. To avoid confusion, here are the definitions of each mask, to help you learn what each one is:
A full-face mask – this refers to the CPAP mask that covers your nose and mouth entirely. Contrary to the name, it doesn't cover your entire face, being your eyes, ears and forehead.
A nasal mask – this CPAP mask covers just the nose, allowing breathing through the mouth to continue.
A pillow mask – the type of CPAP mask that sits on the base on of the nose.