Sleep apnea, a serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and restarts, affects approximately 18 million Americans, with around 1 in 50 cases going undiagnosed. It can be a potentially dangerous medical issue if left untreated, correlating with heart problems, high blood pressure or stroke.
There are three main types of sleep apnea, the most common of which, obstructive sleep apnea, is related to the relaxation of throat muscles. The airway becomes narrowed, causing snoring and other issues.
Treatment starts with, most likely, a sleep study, called a polysomnogram. Conducted overnight at a special facility, this study records brain activity, heart rate, breathing patterns and oxygen levels, blood pressure, body movement, eye movements and more. An unattended study or home sleep test may also be an option. If diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, the next step is treatment. One of the most common is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. It keeps your airway open during sleep by gently pushing a light but steady stream of air through a mask, regulating your breathing.
CPAP machines consist of the mechanism itself, a flexible tube and a mask. The machine is small, the tubing long enough to allow movement as you sleep, and the mask lightweight. It does represent a change in lifestyle, since it takes time to adjust to sleeping this way, but it is certainly preferable to the alternative.
There are a range of CPAP masks styles available, including nasal pillows that fit under your nostrils, which have smaller straps. Different styles have their pros and cons; for instance, the nasal pillows are more comfortable, but don?t work as well for people who move around a lot in their sleep. Mask styles that cover the nose and mouth can be uncomfortable, but the better fit means higher effectiveness. According to a recent study, preferences for nasal pillows or CPAP masks are equally divided; 50 percent of users prefer nasal pillows, 45 percent favor nasal masks, and the remaining 5 percent have no specific preference. Fit is the primary concern; the mask seal should prevent air leakage and help maintain consistent air pressure.
In regard to air pressure setting, a sleep specialist will prescribe the right level, and possibly make recommendations regarding a timed pressure setting, so that you can fall asleep easily on a lower pressure setting, which raises incrementally to the right level after you?ve fallen asleep.
CPAP machines can be expensive, averaging around $900 new. But what about a used CPAP machine? There are several reasons for considering a used CPAP machine. Perhaps you are currently renting a machine, and the extra fees are adding up, or you want a back up machine, perhaps for travel or to leave at a home where you are a frequent guest. In addition, insurance issues can affect cost; either you don?t have insurance to cover a CPAP machine, or the hidden fees of the insurance you do have are increasing the long term cost. In these situations, finding a clean, tested, used CPAP machine is a smart option.
The most important thing, whether you have a new or used CPAP machine, whether you have nasal pads or a mask, is to use the device regularly and as prescribed. Keep in mind that CPAP is a therapy, not a permanent cure. You will have to use it nightly in order to get the full results. Although, admittedly, it is hard to remember and mildly uncomfortable to wear, the benefits are well worth it.
You will feel more alert, energetic, and rested than you have in a long time. The effects of exhaustion will slowly disappear, and you?ll find yourself more ready to take on the daily challenges that may have seemed too much to handle when you weren?t getting proper sleep. Your thinking will be clearer and sharper, too. In addition, anyone sleeping nearby will also have a better night?s rest, since you won?t be snoring or gasping throughout the night. A further benefit is that you?ll help prevent more serious health issues, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.