If you suffer from sleep apnea, you know how it can adversely affect your quality of life. This severe sleep disorder can cause you to stop breathing for 10 to 30 seconds while you sleep. However, it can occur up to 400 times each night. All that loss of sleep can affect people of all ages. And it affects them in many ways – from headaches and irritability to more severe complications, such as pulmonary hypertension and even death. Consult your doctor if you think you have sleep apnea. Treatment offers hope. It is called a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device.
The path to greater well-being
A CPAP device is placed over your face while you sleep. Includes a mask, tubes, and a fan. The mask and the tubes are disposable. There are three types of devices: the nasal pillow model, the nose and mouth mask, and the mask with chin strap. A CPAP device uses the air pressure to push the tongue forward and open the throat. This allows air to pass through the throat. It reduces snoring and prevents sleep disorders. Your doctor may prescribe a CPAP device after analyzing your symptoms and your medical history. You may also be asked to complete a sleep study. This is an overnight test at a sleep study center. You participate in the survey with trained clinical professionals who use technology to control sleep at night. If your doctor prescribes a CPAP, you should use it every time you sleep, even for naps. If you are overweight or suffer from severe apnea, your CPAP may require more air pressure.
While a CPAP does not cure sleep apnea, it will help you get a good night’s sleep. The specific benefits include:
- Improves concentration during the day and memory.
- It provides more energy during the day.
- Improves the sleep of your bed partner.
- Improvement of productivity at work.
- Reduces anxiety and depression
- Regular sleep patterns.
- It lowers blood pressure if your blood pressure usually is high.
Issues to consider
Some people have problems with their CPAP devices. This is more common when they start using it. If you have issues at the beginning, do not give up. Many times, problems disappear as you get used to using the device. It can also be useful to find a support group in your area so that you can talk to other people who use the tool.
Other common concerns with a CPAP device include:
- Comfort. You may have to try different ways to find the one that is right for you.
- Dry nasal congestion Use a humidifier to moisten the air from the CPAP device.
- Nasal congestion. Some people who have sleep apnea also have nasal problems. Talk to your doctor to see if you can treat nasal problems with a nasal spray. Surgery is also sometimes an option. People who breathe through their mouths do not do as well with CPAP nasal masks. A nose and mouth mask can be a better option.
- Irritation of the skin and nose. This can happen because the device should fit snugly over the nose and cheeks. A mask of a different type or size can help. Also, there are special moisturizers for the skin made for the users of CPAP devices. Some lotions can damage the mask. Ask your doctor for more information. People suffering from irritation of the skin and nose choose to use the nasal pillow model that is placed on the nose and relieves pressure on the bridge of the nose. Consider alternating between the nasal model and the standard mask for comfort.
- Air leaks Some people can not keep their jaws closed with the mask on. A chin strap can help and prevent air from escaping.
- Pressure problems. Sometimes the pressure bothers people. This happens when you exhale when you enter the air. Your doctor may suggest the use of a two-level device that decreases air pressure when you exhale.
- Resistance. Some people have difficulty wearing the mask all night, every night. Keep trying. Start with one hour at a time. Once you feel comfortable, you can increase your time.
- Discomfort in the tongue. Some people find that using a dental device that pushes the tongue forward makes the mask more comfortable. A more severe solution may involve throat or jaw surgery. Talk to your doctor about your discomfort.
Questions to ask your doctor
- If I share a bed or room at night, how can I know if the other person has sleep apnea?
- Is the device expensive, and does insurance cover it?
- Can you sleep on your side with the mask?
- If the fan in the device breaks, is it harmful to your health?
- Is the CPAP device beneficial for other health conditions?
- Should I bring the CPAP device with me when I travel?