Sleep apnea is a debilitating condition that prevents you from breathing properly as you sleep. People who suffer from sleep apnea typically awaken feeling tired though they went to bed early enough to get eight hours of sleep. This is because, unbeknownst to them, their sleep has been disrupted by shallow breathing or pauses in breathing that move them from deep sleep into light sleep.
There are different kinds of sleep apnea and most people don’t even realize they have it. Typically, they are alerted by their partner who notices them snorting in their sleep as their breathing begins again or moves past an obstruction, or snoring excessively. You can develop sleep apnea for many reasons and fortunately there is treatment. One common solution is the Continuous Positive Air Pressure (CPAP) machine. But how do you know which one to choose?
CPAP machines are only available with a prescription. This means you must be diagnosed with sleep apnea first. The problem is that sleep apnea can’t be detected with a blood test or an x-ray, it is usually only diagnosed after a sleep study. To get a sleep study you must be referred by a physician or a dentist.
If you live in Hilliard, Ohio, Mark Levy, DDS is a specialist in sleep apnea and has treated patients with appliances to wear in conjunction with their CPAP machine. He can initiate a sleep study for you and guide you through the process. Call his office at (614) 777-7350 if you think you have sleep apnea.
Once your sleep apnea sleep study is complete you will be able to purchase or rent your CPAP machine. They are available from medical supply houses and sleep centers. You can be given a prescription for a specific machine or generic brand machine. You are better off with the generic prescription because it allows you to try out different machines if the one you have isn’t working for you.
There are certain features that all of the sleep apnea machines honor, but there are some features that are unique to specific models or manufacturers. For example, some offer alerts if you mask falls off. Others offer leak compensation or they automatically adjust the pressure. The pressure is important because it is initially set by the doctor or technician and cannot be adjusted by the patient. Automatically adjusting the pressure can be helpful if the conditions under which you are sleeping changes, perhaps if you are on vacation at a higher or lower altitude.
Some sleep apnea machines have an integrated humidifier where on others it is optional. The heated humidifier reduces nasal congestion and dry throat conditions that can affect your dental health due to the probable lower amounts of saliva that are produced as you sleep. Others have optional DC cables, integrated data cards and session recording to keep track of your therapy.
The next decision you will have to make to care for your sleep apnea is the style of mask you will wear when you sleep. Obviously it is important to have a mask that will be comfortable and won’t interfere with the way you sleep. All of the masks are secured on your head with straps around your chin and/or your forehead that have flexible foam or gel cushioning. This is where they diverge and you must choose what is right for you.
There are four types of masks that can be used for sleep apnea. One is a nasal pillow that has little tubes that fit directly into your nostrils. Next are nasal masks that fit directly over your nose and seal the area around it. The third is a full-face mask, what most people think of when they think of masks. This one fits over the nose and mouth. Lastly, there are oral masks which are fastened between the lips and gums.
Obviously this is where the real decision will take place. You have to choose the delivery option that suits you. Some people don’t like anything “stuck up their nose”. Some people feel constrained when wearing a full face mask. Some of the styles simply may not work for you at all and defeat the purpose of having the machine. This is also the advantage of the machines that record your sleep apnea sessions. Your medical professional can check the sessions and determine whether you are getting sufficient oxygen. If not, it could be the mask you chose and you may need to try a different one.
CPAP machines for sleep apnea vary in cost by manufacturer and by the features offered by the model you choose. The good news is that insurance usually covers it. It pays to shop around because they do vary in price from supplier to supplier. Many online retailers offer discounts, but only buy it from them if they require a prescription.