Are you tired during the day? Do you feel like you don’t get enough sleep at night no matter what you do? You may have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is one of America’s most common sleep disorders, affecting about 22 million people. Fortunately, Hancock Regional Hospital Sleep Disorder Center offers quality treatment for those suffering from apnea as well as a number of other sleep disorders.
There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central, and complex. Someone with obstructive sleep apnea generally has an airway blockage during sleep because the tongue collapses against the soft palate, and the soft palate collapses against the throat. When this occurs, the body signals them to wake up, but only briefly and for just long enough to clear their airway. The waking is so brief, in fact, many sufferers aren’t even aware that they awaken many times every night. Central sleep apnea happens when the airway is blocked but the brain doesn’t signal for the muscles to breathe; complex sleep apnea is a combination of the two.
How is apnea treated?
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of this sleep disorder and is surprisingly easy to treat. Patients can see their primary healthcare provider to receive a referral to the Sleep Disorder Center. With cozy suites and a staff of caring professionals, patients can place their trust in receiving high-quality care to help their sleep problems. Those presenting with apnea will be prescribed a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure — aka CPAP — machine. The air from this machine forces the airway to remain clear, making for less chance of waking and a much better night’s sleep. Machines are generally rented through a patient’s insurance policy.
What are some common things to know about CPAP machines?
According to Samantha Bane at the Hancock Regional Hospital Sleep Disorder Center, if you exhibit symptoms such as drowsiness or fatigue during the day or feel a decrease in energy level, ask your doctor for a referral. If you’ve already been diagnosed with sleep apnea and are thinking about getting a CPAP machine, Bane offers the following tips:
- Face-mask fittings are currently held virtually using a tool and a web-chat interface. It is essential to measure exactly so the seal doesn’t end up leaking. Patients may need to try various types and sizes before finding the right one.
- You can choose between a face mask, nasal mask, or even a nasal pillow mask. Depending on your comfort and the severity of your condition, it may take a few tries to see which type offers the most relief. For instance, Bane says some people feel claustrophobic while using a face mask, while others feel a more minimal device, such as a nasal mask, doesn’t offer them enough therapy.
- Allow yourself an adjustment period. Bane suggests that you wear the CPAP machine during the day while reading or watching TV until you become more accustomed to the sound and the feel of the mask on your face. That way, it won’t feel as intrusive when you go to bed. Once you experience the therapy during sleep, you’ll understand why it can make a world of difference.
- Clean your machine! This is the most important tip to remember, says Bane. Tubing should be cleaned once a week at a minimum, while pads and masks need to be replaced anywhere from every two weeks to once a month. Keeping your CPAP machine spotless will ensure that you are not inhaling any bacteria, which could be detrimental to your health. It will also allow the machine to function more efficiently and provide better therapy for you.
Sleep disorders are common, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less difficult to live with. Constant day fatigue can be an incredibly problematic symptom to rise above, especially when it comes to driving, performing tasks, or operating heavy machinery. If you think you or a loved one are suffering from a sleep disorder, ask for a referral to Hancock’s Sleep Disorder Center and get the help you need today. You will be glad you did once you feel the benefits of getting a full night’s sleep again.