Sleep Apnea & CPAP FAQ’s
General Sleep Apnea Questions
The phrase obstructive sleep apnea actually gains its meaning from the Greek word for “without breath.” This aptly named sleeping disorder causes sufferers to repeatedly wake up throughout the night due to a lack of oxygen and trouble breathing felt throughout the night. Often times the sufferer will wake from sleep repeatedly throughout the night, disrupting the natural sleep cycle at its most critical points.
This is generally caused by the muscles in the neck and airways relaxing to the point that the airways itself becomes obstructed.
Generally speaking this type of event must happen more than several times in order for it to be clinically considered apnea.
A more scientific approach to the diagnosis of apnea would be a marked drop in oxygen levels detected throughout the body several times an hour. If a person experience this several times, upwards of ten times, within one hour of sleep, they can fully be considered as having apnea.
This disruption during the natural cycle of sleep leads to more serious issues such as chronic fatigue, a higher risk or heart attack, increased risk of stroke, and even diabetes. As sleep is certainly important to the overall health of a person, this disruption during the most critical periods of sleep can severely impact a person’s overall wellbeing in a way that can be considered life threatening.
Unlike OSA, which is caused by muscles relaxing in the body, CSA is caused by the brain simply not providing the correct signals to continue breathing throughout the night during the deepest part of sleep.
Patients that suffer from CSA often benefit from bi-pap therapy as it helps apply pressure during inhalation and exhalation stimulating the constant pattern of respiration throughout the night.
Those that suffer from MSA have a combination of both CSA and OSA. Usually this means that a patient must require medication to treat this more specialized version of apnea. Though there have been several breakthroughs with bi-pap technology that now more effectively treat symptoms of those suffering from MSA, leading a better treatment plan that doesn’t involve heavy medication.
The symptoms of sleep apnea can vary, as no one person may experience sleep apnea in the same way, though they generally include:
- Inability to get restful sleep
- Gastro-esophageal reflux disease
- Periodic loss of the ability to breathe at night which leads to choking or snorting sounds
- Headaches caused by the lack of meaningful sleep
- General lethargy throughout the day
- Loss of weight or even unexpected weight gain caused by lack of sleep and the body’s inability to regulate hunger cravings
- And in some cases severe changes in mood and general personality
Generally diagnosis requires an overnight study be conducted by a professional in a clinical sleep study environment as this is the only way to observe the event happening while being able to make the determination of apnea. More often than not, people who suffer from apnea generally don’t diagnose themselves but rather are told by their sleeping partner about their nightly occurrences and disturbances.
The characteristic choking or snorting noises made throughout the night usually are the first sign someone may be living with sleep apnea. It is usually these noises that disturb sleeping partners and alert them to the existence of a potential problem.
Less common but certainly not unheard of, are instances in which a person is involved in a more serious event caused by their inability to gain meaningful sleep throughout the night.
First and foremost, if you suspect you or your loved one may suffer from sleep apnea you must receive an official diagnosis from a clinical sleep study. Sleep apnea can be at times fatal if left untreated so putting off treatment and diagnosis is only raising the risk that you or a loved will suffer needlessly.
If you do suspect that you or your loved suffers from sleep apnea, you can always check out our provided videos for more information before scheduling an overnight stay in clinical sleep study but if you feel that sleep apnea is indeed present, it is imperative that you don’t put off seeking treatment as it can certainly become a life and death matter.
During your scheduled clinical sleep study they will be looking for several pieces of information in order to determine the facts surrounding your particular case.
In general they will look to see if any instances of CSA are present and if so, how many occur throughout the night.
They will look to see if perhaps your apnea can be considered what is called positional sleep apnea, meaning that one position generally leads to a higher instance of symptoms.
They will also look for any irregularities that may be found throughout your sleep cycle, searching for instances in which your apnea uniquely presents itself.
After you clinical sleep study, it is important you obtain information about what was discovered, particular you will want to ask the clinicians to receive copies of the documents generated throughout the study in order to present the findings accurately to your own doctor, who in turn can recommend the best course of treatment for your unique case.
Diagnosed with Sleep Apnea
If you have received a positive diagnosis of sleep apnea, the important to remember is that it is completely treatable and you can still live a very normal life despite the difficulties it presents. Though you will want to take the diagnosis seriously and invest in your health. Much as a diagnosis requires treatment that may be costly, generally speaking choosing to elect cheaper treatment options can lead to a poorer standard of treatment and in turn a poorer standard of health.
So invest in quality machines and devices designed to treat your particular diagnosis of apnea.
Of course the best treatment option often involves utilizing a CPAP machine which helps regulate breathing throughout the night and provide relief from symptoms. The machines themselves will often come with everything you need to start treatment, but often you may find you require additional equipment such as humidifiers and the like to treat your particular case fully.
CPAP therapy, or continuous positive airway pressure therapy, refers to treatment that utilize a machine to provide constant pressure throughout the night in order to help regulate and encourage a normal breathing cycle of exhalation and inhalation without the event of apnea occurring. Generally speaking, it is the most effective way to treat apnea and the most common way as well.
The therapy itself is provided through the use of a CPAP machine which often supplies the needed pressure through tubing and a mask attached to the main device which creates and supplies the pressure throughout the entire treatment period.
This constant pressure is able to regulate the natural breathing patterns of a person and prevent the event of apnea form occurring.
Though the CPAP machine itself can offer varying degrees of pressure, some which may be more or less beneficial to a person depending upon their own unique case of apnea. To determine the best pressure to achieve throughout the night, it is best to leave that determination up to a trained professional or your physician as they often can check the recorded data stored on your CPAP machine to determine the efficacy of treatment and applied pressure.
The devices themselves utilize masks and nasal attachments to directly apply and supply the needed pressure throughout the night. These masks often require an airtight seal as leaks in pressure can cause treatment to be ineffective. Though CPAP machines often come with a variety of mask types to ensure a person receives the most comfortable fit. Some people prefer the full mask type that ensure a quality fit and will not slip throughout the night. While others may opt for a smaller less noticeable mask that will allow them to move around as they sleep without a problem. The choice of mask solely lies with the determination of the person as to what is most comfortable.
The many benefits of CPAP therapy…
CPAP therapy, being the best way to treat and effectively reduce the occurrences of sleep apnea, comes with the major benefit of allowing a person to receive more restful sleep throughout the night while reducing apnea occurrences throughout the night as well. This in turn can reduce the feelings of lethargy felt throughout the day, lower risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. It can also improve overall well-being and general feelings of irritability as well as allow a person to regain control over their entire lifestyle.
Generally speaking CPAP will help reduce most if not all of the negative symptoms often attributed sleep apnea itself. Without treatment these conditions and symptoms can often lead to more serious events so by electing to use a CPAP machine, you can prevent yourself from experiences severe health complications caused by your nightly apnea occurrences.
Certainly, the answer most astoundingly, yes. As treatment needs to be applied every time you fall asleep, using a CPAP machine every night will have to become a ritual for yourself. Simply put, if you don’t use your CPAP machine every night, your apnea will occur and the benefits and advances you have made in terms of your overall well-being will start to slip.
Even a single night without your CPAP machine can lead to more serious health complications and is all but asking for an apnea occurrence to take place.
Though don not worry. Using your machine will become more natural overtime and as you adjust to the new changes, you will begin to stop noticing the treatment as it becomes more like second nature to you, simply another part of your nightly ritual, much as brushing your teeth or changing your clothes.
Well the easy and not so easy answer to hear is indefinitely? It is important to remember that CPAPP therapy is just that, it is a therapy and treatment option, but by no means a cure of any type. There is no set amount of days you will have to use the machine before you can return back to sleeping as you did before. Using a CPAP machine simply must become a part of your life if you wish to no longer suffer from sleep apnea.
CPAP Equipment Questions
Different from a CPAP machine, an APAP, or automatic positive airway pressure device, is used to automatically detect changes in your breath caused by the natural cycle of inhalation and exhalation. As the device detects the slight variances in pressure, it automatically adjusts to provide only the lowest effective pressure, aiding your ability to sleep throughout the night without the disturbance of unnecessary pressure when it is not needed.
By providing just the minimum amount of pressure needed to keep your airway unobstructed, an APAP machine provides you with the ideal treatment throughout the night.
Though being the ideal treatment method and often times more technically advance than CPAP machines, APAP devices often are more expensive. Though price should not keep you away from treating your apnea fully and effectively, remember this is your health we are speaking about and in terms of your well-being when a treatment is necessary it should be followed.
It is important to note that many APAP machines can often double as CPAP machines with a few changes made in their settings, though CPAP machines cannot become APAP machines despite any changes made to their settings. This distinction is important to remember when deciding which device you may purchase. If you decide you may require CPAP and APAP, it is often more cost effective you simply purchase an APAP device that can provide you with both.
A biPAP or bi-level machine is one that provides two varying pressures that are applied at different times in set cycle often determined by your doctor. The set cycle fluctuates between a higher pressure needed during inhalation and a typically lower pressure that is applied during exhalation.
Unfortunately as this is a separate type of treatment, a prescription for a CPAP machine will not allow you to purchase a biPAP or bi-level machine. In order to do so you will need to obtain a separate prescription specifically stating that you need a biPAP or bi-level device for treatment.
No, no real maintenance goes into owning a machine or device aside from regularly cleaning and changing the provided air filters from time to time in order to keep your device functioning at its optimal level.
Though you may want to keep your machine free of dust and not stored in any place where dust may accumulate inside the pieces of your machine as this can affect the quality of our treatment and lead to needing to change your air filter more often than is necessary.
Also be sure to avoid placing anything around the intake of the machine as things can become lodged in the intake passage way, preventing the machine from providing the needed treatment throughout the night and can also cause the machine to overheat and in turn malfunction or even break.
It is important to remember that if you do choose to buy an optional humidifier attachment for your device or machine, to never grab or transport your device while the humidifier is attached as this can often lead to spills occurring which can damage your machine. T is also important to remember that most manufacturers if not all, will not accept water damage as a viable reason for return and water damage will often void any warranty you may have or procured.
So if you do use a humidifier attachment, simply disconnect and empty the attachment any time you need to move your device to prevent any leaks, spills, or otherwise unwanted accidents.
Yes, it is federally mandated that a company first see proof of a prescription before selling you a machine or device. Though it is rather easy to supply a company with proof, simply email, fax, mail a copy of your prescription and you are ready to purchase your device.
You will need to take care of your mask in order to extend its overall lifetime and efficacy. Though this is rather easy, simply wash your mask after each therapy session with warm water and soap, then leave it to air dry before your next session. It is important to remember though, that anti-bacterial soap should never be used as it will break down the materials of your mask and shorten its lifespan and effectiveness.
You could also purchase specially formulated wipes designed to be used solely on your machine’s mask that will help extend the lifetime of the mask while completely cleaning and sanitizing its surface effectively and safely.
As a measure of good practice, you should replace the cushion of your mask every three months while you should look to replace the entire masks itself every six months. Though this is strictly the longest you should go before replacing your mask, the actual time between replacements may be shorter depending upon how well you care for your mask and the general condition it is stored in. This highlights the importance of regular cleanings and properly using the correct materials to care for your mask.
Leaks often occur when a mask no longer fits securely on the face or when the material of the mask no longer provides an adequate seal around your face.
Often times this can be remedied simply by purchasing a new mask cushion and replacing the old one, though there are instances when leaks occur due to the way you sleep which would require you to make adjustments to your sleeping patterns, such as using a different pillow or sleeping in a different position in order to reduce the likelihood of leaks. Though cushion replacement is often most common fix for leaks.