The problem with sleep apnea, and if you suffer from it you’ll be well aware of this, is that there is no known cure for it. CPAP isn’t a cure for sleep apnea, it’s a way of treating it and making sure that you keep the symptoms at bay.
If you don’t use your CPAP machine after being advised to by a medical professional or a therapist to do so, then all of the problems that your sleep apnea caused in the first place will start to return. Even if you miss a single night of CPAP treatment, the symptoms that led you to seek professional help in the first place and are directly related to sleep apnea will begin to manifest themselves again.
And that means that you’ll probably start to feel fatigued during the day again and that tiredness could lead to you becoming easily confused, having trouble trying to concentrate, and could lead to your blood pressure rising which will increase the likelihood that you could suffer a cardiac or cerebral event.
If you do stop using your CPAP machine, you could also end up in the grip of depression and be caught in the thrall of panic attacks and anxiety, all of which are directly linked to sleep apnea.
That’s why it’s important to keep using your CPAP machine if you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea, because it’s not a cure, it’s a means of treating the condition. Without regular, nightly CPAP treatment, it isn’t just a possibility that your sleep apnea symptoms will return, it’s an absolute certainty.
What Happens If You Use A CPAP And Don’t Need It?
The chances of actually being able to use a CPAP machine if you don’t need it, are slim to non-existent. Why? Because in order to actually get a CPAP machine, you need a CPAP prescription, and the only way to legally get a prescription is to take part in a sleep study.
And you’ll only get that prescription after the results of your sleep study have been analyzed by a medical professional and you’ve received an official OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea) diagnosis. Without the prescription, you won’t be able to get a CPAP machine.
CPAP machines are Class II medical devices and it’s a federal offense to supply one to someone without the correct paperwork, which in this case is the aforementioned prescription.
Because they’re engineered to help regulate the breathing of OSA sufferers if you use a CPAP machine that’s been set up for someone else, it could lead you down a road of breathing difficulties and problems that’ll ensure that you end up taking a trip to the emergency room that’ll culminate in a lot of difficult and embarrassing questions and could end up creating a whole raft of insurance problems that you really don’t want to deal with.
Don’t try to use a CPAP machine because you think you might have OSA, as it’ll open a can of worms that it could be extremely difficult to put the cap back on. Talk to a medical professional and take the time to get an official diagnosis and, if you do have OSA you’ll be able to get a prescription and be legally entitled to use a CPAP machine.
When Should You Not Use CPAP?
You shouldn’t use CPAP therapy or a CPAP machine if you haven’t been diagnosed with OSA, haven’t been advised to use one by a medical professional, and don’t have a CPAP prescription.
If you have other respiratory problems, or underlying health conditions, sometimes a CPAP machine isn’t the ideal way to treat your OSA as it could lead to further complications that’ll increase the likelihood of your other long-term illnesses or conditions rearing their ugly heads.
If you’ve ever suffered from claustrophobia, you’ll need to tell your doctor about it, and any other mental health issues that you might be taking medication for before you receive your prescription. There is a possibility that if you do suffer from claustrophobia or a fear of enclosed spaces, that using a CPAP machine could lead to you suffering a panic attack while undergoing your initial bouts of therapy.
Thinking about using a CPAP machine can be a terrifying and genuinely frightening prospect, so make sure that you always talk to a medical professional about any concerns that you might have about using one before you do.
Don’t be embarrassed, as you won’t ask them anything that they haven’t heard before and nothing is as important as your health. If you have concerns about CPAP make sure you raise them with your doctor.
Can You Suffocate From A CPAP Machine?
The short answer is no, and the longer answer is no, you can’t suffocate while using a CPAP machine. It is scientifically, and medically impossible to suffocate while wearing a CPAP mask, as there’s a valve on the side of the mask that continually lets in air from whatever room your machine is located in.
The mask you’ll wear while you’re using a CPAP machine uses a combination of air from the machine and the world around you to help you, and your body regulate your breathing and treat your OSA.
The idea that someone using a CPAP machine could suffocate seems to have been born from urban mythology and is an extenuation and exaggeration of the very real possibility that someone who suffers from anxiety or claustrophobia, could end up having a mild panic attack while using a machine for the first time.
There isn’t even a remote possibility that you could end up being suffocated by your CPAP machine, but if it is something that you’re genuinely concerned, and worried about, don’t take our word for it. Speak to your doctor about it and they’ll happily explain how the machine works in great detail and show you how and why it’s impossible for it to suffocate you.
If there was even a remote chance that it could happen, CPAP machines would never have been certified by the AMA (American Medical Association) and you certainly wouldn’t need a prescription to use one.
Damon Wiseley is a Registered Respiratory Therapist and Certified Pulmonary Function Technologist.