Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is the standard first-line approach for moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea. Although CPAP can alleviate sleep apnea in the majority of patients and may represent a cure for some patients, compliance is often difficult to achieve. Many patients are resistant to wearing an oral or oral/nasal mask at night, and CPAP can interfere with sleep, making patients irritable and tired during the day. ENToday spoke with several experts on how to improve compliance with CPAP.
Explore this issue:November 2006
First, the clinician should confirm the diagnosis. Patients are often misdiagnosed with sleep apnea, said B. Tucker Woodson, MD, who is Professor and Chief of the Department of Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, Wis. Dr. Woodson said that the diagnosis should be based on a complete history and not entirely on the polysomnogram. “A correct diagnosis is critical,” he stated.
“CPAP is the least invasive approach to obstructive sleep apnea, and complications are rare. The most serious problem I’ve seen with CPAP is patients dropping the appliances on their feet. The basic challenge is to gain patient acceptance of therapy,” Dr. Woodson commented.