Harvard Health Letter

Sleep apnea: Keeping up the positive pressure

Sleep apnea has been linked to many health problems. Obstructive sleep apnea can be treated effectively with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, though getting used to using it can be challenging. A large proportion — half, by some reckonings — of people who start CPAP quit within a year, and most of those gave up during the first four weeks. It's understandable that people would want to abandon a treatment that involves wearing a mask and being tethered to a machine while in bed. Moreover, all that air blowing through your nose can cause nasal congestion, which, at the very least, is uncomfortable and can defeat the entire purpose of CPAP, if the air necessary to open the airway is blocked by a clogged-up, congested nose.
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