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Sleep Apnea Treatment Options

Sleep apnea treatment optionsSleep apnea treatment options vary, however the common one seems to be utilizing a CPAP machine to help keep the airways open. When the snoring gets so bad that your spouse says go to the other bedroom, or you wake up gasping for air, it just might be time to see your doctor about a sleep study.

I have just been prescribed one of these machines and I am learning a lot about sleep apnea and wanted to share it with other readers. Note that if you suspect that you have it, see your doctor.

What I have learned so far is that when you go to sleep, the muscles in your neck relax and sag to the back of your throat, blocking the airway to your lungs as shown in the picture. When this happens you stop breathing and carbon dioxide begins to build up in your blood stream until the brain realizes what is going on and causes a muscle spasm, waking you up and causing you to breathe. My respiratory therapist told me that I would not suffocate this way, because the brain goes into panic mode and will wake you up before you suffocate. That is the good news.

During this time when carbon dioxide is building up, your heart begins to race and your blood pressure can also become very high. This makes people with sleep apnea prone to heart attacks and also to strokes.  These issues can be very serious and actually make your life far worse than it already is due to lack of sleep. If you are experiencing these symptoms mentioned in preceding paragraphs, go see your doctor!

Sleep Apnea Treatment Options

I have read some information about operations that can be done, however there is no guarantee and the operation could damage your voice box. An operation is very invasive and not a decision that should be taken lightly. Most people associate sleep apnea with people who are overweight. However apparently slim people can also have sleep apnea and 4% of men have it along with 2% of women. Having an operation is not something I even thought about, preferring to follow my doctors suggestion and follow another option.

The other option is a CPAP machine which is not invasive at all. Although it looks cumbersome and most people will have to learn to adjust to it. But once you do most people will be very happy with it.

Basically it is a machine that pressurizes your airways and keeps then from collapsing. People stop snoring completely and they stop all signs of sleep apnea after a few weeks, provided that they wear the mask and use the CPAP machine properly. I can attest to this since my spouse told me that I have not snored since I started using the device. I am still adjusting to wearing the mask, but then that is to be expected.

Types of CPAP Masks

All of the masks require that you wear straps around your head to hold the mask in place and if you happen to be a mouth breather, you will need a chin strap as well. There basically 3 kinds of masks as I have come to understand it. There is the nasal pillow mask, the full nose mask and the full face mask.

The nasal pillow mask basically fits to your nostrils with an opening to each one. It is held in place by two straps and is very soft and form fitting to the nose. The first night mine was too tight and my nose was sore in the morning. Since then I have loosened it slightly and everything has been fine since.

The full nose mask covers your nose and creates a tight seal to the skin around your nose. It is also held in place by straps. For me it is a bit more cumbersome looking. Since I sneeze a lot, I decided that it was not for me. Not sure how the nasal pillow one will work when I sneeze. But I guess I will cross that bridge when we get to it.

The full face mask covers the nose area and the mouth. There are straps holding in place and is ideal for people who are uncomfortable with something close to their nose. It provides the option of breathing through your nose or your mouth and is ideal for mouth breathers. I cough a lot as well and this one did not appeal to me for that reason preferring to cough into the air rather than into the mask.

Summary

This is what I know so far about the masks. So far after five weeks I am comfortable with the nasal pillow mask. As a result I plan to stick with it for the time being unless something changes. My government insurance plan pays 75% of the cost. My personal insurance pays 80% of the rest, so the cost will not be too bad on a personal level. Replacement masks and hoses will be covered in the same manner as far as I know. More to come about CPAP machines and sleep apnea. For more information about sleep issues and sleep apnea, click here.

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One Response to “Sleep Apnea Treatment Options”

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