What is EPR on CPAP and What Does It Do?

Anyone who has been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is likely aware of the benefits associated with a continuous positive airway pressure machine. 

Often referred to by the acronym CPAP or APAP, these mechanisms help the user to breathe more comfortably during the overnight hours. They have already alleviated the symptoms of thousands of individuals and this technology continues to evolve.

However, there are still times when a CPAP might cause a significant amount of discomfort. 

This can lead to broken sleeping and in some cases, the symptoms of OSA may actually worsen. 

One scenario involves feelings of pressure when exhaling. Let's take a look at what might cause this condition -- as well as why the use of the EPR setting could provide the solution that you have been looking for. 

CPAP Settings or User Issues?

There can be instances when the pressure settings of a CPAP are too high and as a result, it becomes difficult to exhale as opposed to inhale. In some cases, the best solution is to simply adjust these parameters or to consult with a sleep specialist. 

Other instances may occur due to nothing more than the user’s unique physical traits. For instance, those who have already been diagnosed with a more severe form of obstructive sleep apnea may be at a higher risk of experiencing problems when exhaling.

The good news is that your CPAP or APAP may have an EPR setting that provides a viable solution. It is therefore a good idea to examine these systems in greater detail. 

What is an EPR and How Does it Function?

EPR is an acronym for "expiratory pressure relief". This system is built into some CPAPs and it enables the user to quickly modify the amount of outer pressure experienced when breathing out. While highly advanced in terms of operation, an EPR is actually quite easy to control. 

This mechanism provides the user with a number of different settings in the form of a points system. For example, let us imagine for a moment that your CPAP is set at Level 10. 

Choosing an EPR setting of Level 3 will automatically reduce exhalation pressure levels from 10 to 7. Of course, there may also be instances when only minor changes need to be made. In this case, you can choose an EPR setting of Level 1. 

What are the Benefits of an EPR?

The most obvious advantage of this system is that you will remain more comfortable while wearing your CPAP mask overnight. Those who are able to exhale naturally are also less likely to awaken unexpectedly; leading to a sound evening of rest. There are nonetheless some additional benefits to highlight before moving on. 

One issue which some CPAP users may experience involves air that leaks from the periphery of their mask. This can be caused by high levels of air pressure. Not only might leaking air decrease the efficacy of the entire machine, but it also leads to a greater degree of noise while operating. A noisy CPAP is obviously less than beneficial in terms of remaining asleep. 

An EPR will help to eliminate such issues. 

When to Know if you need an EPR 

Of course, not everyone who suffers from obstructive sleep apnea will require an EPR. The main issue therefore involves knowing whether or not an issue is already present. Here are some common symptoms that you might be experiencing problems:

  • You feel as if you are beginning to suffocate
  • You notice that your mouth always seems dry (either overnight or upon waking in the morning).
  • The mask keeps losing its seal.

In the past, it would have been slightly difficult to adjust your CPAP in order to alleviate these conditions. Thanks to the presence of an EPR, personalizing your settings has never been easier. 

It should also be mentioned that the ResMed AirSense 10 now offers an EPR as an option. There are four settings in total (from 0 to 3) and users can experiment in order to determine which level is the most appropriate. 

Modern Technology for a Restful Night of Sleep

EPR technology is only one of the many advancements which can now be enjoyed thanks to how far CPAP machines have come in recent times. If you have additional questions or should you wish to learn more about this unique system, it is always a good idea to speak with your physician.