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Here’s What Happens If You Skip CPAP
What happens if you skip CPAP for a night or longer?
If you have sleep apnoea or snore loudly you are most likely having continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment. CPAP works by introducing gently pressurised air into your airway through a comfortable mask attached to a small pump.
No matter how diligent you are with your CPAP therapy still there will come a time when for any number of reasons you feel the need to skip it. Maybe you’re going on a camping trip and you have no access to electricity. Or you have a cold or need to have surgery and stay overnight in a hospital.
The Risks of Skipping CPAP
You may be wondering what the risks are for skipping CPAP are. And the impact it will have on your sleep apnoea, snoring, general health and wellbeing. If it’s just one night then the risks associated may be quite low. That’s because sleep apnoea and snoring can cause swelling of the tissues that line your airway, both in your nose and throat.
With CPAP therapy, your swelling is reduced. This might make it easier to breathe, even when you aren’t using your machine, like during the day. However, if you take a break for several days, the swelling may return.
The risks associated with skipping CPAP really do vary from person to person.
A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that if you have sleep apnoea and you are hospitalised and don't use your CPAP machine when you return home, you’re 3-5 times more likely to end up back in the hospital.
"Any patient that comes to the hospital for any reason. It could be orthopedic surgery or pneumonia or something else -- who also has sleep apnea needs to know if you don't use your CPAP, the chances are much higher you'll be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days," said study author Dr. Behrouz Jafari.
Not only that but if you haven’t been complying with your CPAP treatment you are more than twice as likely to be readmitted to the hospital due to a heart disease condition within 30 days.
Dr. Jafari said the researchers defined compliance with CPAP therapy as using the device at least 70% of nights for at least four hours a night. Anything less than that was considered noncompliant.
The study involved 345 patients with severe sleep apnoea. They had been hospitalised at a Veterans Affairs medical centre from 2007 to 2015. Most were men aged over 62.
If you have taken a break from CPAP therapy due to some unavoidable circumstances. It’s important to get straight back into it as soon as possible. If your reasons for skipping CPAP are related to discomfort. Contact your sleep therapist for guidance on getting a better night’s sleep.
Behrouz Jafari, M.D., director, sleep program, Veterans Affairs Long Beach Healthcare System, California; Praveen Rudraraju, M.D., director, Center for Sleep Medicine, Northern Westchester Hospital, Mount Kisco, N.Y.; Feb. 15, 2018, Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.