What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?
Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a common and serious breathing sleep disorder that collapsed soft tissues in your airways causes you to stop breathing repeatedly during sleep.
The muscles in your airway including your tongue relax when you fall asleep. During this process, you snore loudly or make choking noises as you try to breathe. Your brain and body becomes oxygen deprived and your brain wakes you up. This cycle repeats from a few times a night, to in more severe cases, several hundred times a night. As a result you feel tired, un-refreshed and have difficulty concentrating the next day. This means your body did not get proper rest where it heals and repairs as required. The effects of the ongoing sleep deficiency is compounded with the lack of oxygen your body receives at night can have a negative long-term consequences for your health. It will lead to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and depression.
Signs & symptoms of OSA
It can be tough to identify Sleep Apnea on your own. The most prominent symptoms only occur when you’re asleep. Here are some signs and symptoms of a common OSA subject – asleep and awake.
- Snoring, with frequent pauses in breathing
- Restless sleep or frequent wake ups
- Gasping or choking for air during sleep
- Excessive daytime sleepiness, or chronic fatigue
- Poor concentration
- Irritability, and moody behavior
- Memory loss
- Morning headaches
- High Blood Pressure
- Frequent urination at night and diabetes
- Sexual dysfunction
- Lack of energy and low performance at work
- Heart conditions i.e. previous stroke, heart attack
- Large neck size
Who Gets Sleep Apnea?
It is estimated that approximately 1 in 3 adult Canadian have some form of sleep disordered breathing. This translates to millions of sleepy Canadians. Sleep Apnea unfortunately has gone highly under-diagnosed and left untreated, over time can lead to excess fatigue, vision problems, diabetes, hypertension and other heart-related conditions that can greatly affect the quality of your life.
What is CPAP Therapy?
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) is the gold standard treatment for OSA. CPAP therapy works by providing a positive air pressure to the airway during sleep to keep the tissues and airway open. This pressure is delivered through a machine that air flows via a mask that pushes against the tissues of the airway, keeping them from collapsing. Breathing then becomes regular, snoring stops, resulting in restful quality sleep. Regular restful sleep will result in you to feel well rested, energetic, alert and productive and overall improve your quality of life.
What Causes OSA?
When you’re awake, throat muscles help keep your airway stiff and open so air can flow into your lungs. When you sleep, these muscles are more relaxed. Normally, the relaxed throat muscles don’t prevent your airway from staying open to allow air into your lungs. The major causes of OSA are mechanical or structural abnormalities in the airway:
- Excessive tissue in the back of the airway
- Large tonsils
- Large and/or thick neck
- Long neck, resulting in narrower airways
- Decreased muscle tone holding the airways open
- Large tongue
Types of Treatment
Alternative treatments for OSA include oral appliances and surgery. There are pros and cons of both types of treatment.
Some cons of these types of treatment include it being a temporary solution, a painful procedure, long recovery time, uninsured / out of pocket services which often leads to it being a less popular choice. As with all medical treatment options, please consult with your primary physician provider for expert advice.
If OSA is untreated:
The consequences of not seeking treatment range from a frustrated bed partner to life-threatening. Symptoms of OSA overtime may negatively affect your qualify of life.
Symptoms include depression, irritability, sexual dysfunction, increased weight gain and memory difficulties. Other symptoms include falling asleep at work or while driving. Untreated Canadians are 3 times at risk to be involved in automobile accidents.
It will take effort, time and an open mind for you to become comfortable with your CPAP therapy. Here are some excellent CPAP tips to help you along the way.
- Begin using your mask for short periods while you watch TV or read. This will help you get used to wearing your mask.
- Use your therapy nightly. Seldom usage reduces its health benefits and makes it more difficult for your body to adjust to the therapy.
- Make sure your mask is a good fit. The most common problems with CPAP occur when the mask does not fit or seal properly.
- If your pressure feels too high while you are trying to fall asleep, use the “ramp” mode. This mode will start your device on a low pressure setting and gradually increase the pressure over time.
- Nasal congestion can be a problem with CPAP therapy. A nasal spray or decongestant can help with nasal or sinus congestion.
- Use the humidification function if you have a dry mouth, throat or nose. Many CPAP devices have a heated humidifier. It ensures that you are breathing warm, moist air through your mask.
- Schedule a regular time once a week to clean to your equipment.
- If you feel your CPAP therapy is not properly optimized, reach out to your CPAP Therapy provider. You may need a different type of CPAP mask, machine or you may need an adjustment to your air pressure setting.
Is a prescription required to buy a machine?
Yes, you require a valid prescription from a Sleep Physician in order to purchase a CPAP machine.
Is a prescription required to buy a mask?
No, a prescription is not required.
Do your masks come with hoses?
Most masks come with a short hose only if that particular model is designed to come with one. The long standard tubing is sold separately or it comes with a machine purchase.
Is there tax on my CPAP equipment?
There is no sales tax on medical products.
Are your products brand new or do you sell refurbished items?
All of our products are authentic, brand new, unopened and sealed by the manufacturer. We do not sell refurbished items.
Is CPAP Direct part of the Ontario ADP program?
CPAP Direct is a proud registered ADP vendor licensed by Ontario’s Ministry of Health that permits us to acquire partial funding (up to 70%) for our clients who qualify for this program.
How often should I clean my CPAP equipment?
We advise our clients to clean their mask, tubing, and water chamber weekly with warm water and a mild unscented soap, though sooner if you’re prone to skin irritations or sickness. If you read online CPAP forums, you’ll see it ranges from daily, to never. The best recommendation is to use a cleaning schedule you yourself are comfortable with, whatever that schedule may be.