Sleep apnea disorder is both difficult to diagnose and difficult to treat. While the treatment is fairly simple, and consists of using a sleep apnea machine with a BiPAP mask, sleeping with the mask on takes some getting used to; for this and other reasons most people who have tried different types of cpap masks stop using them. However, with a little practice and effort, people suffering from sleep apnea can learn how to use a CPAP machine and to benefit from it by getting a good night’s sleep.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a breathing disorder that results in periodically closing nasal passages during sleep. Because of the nature of the disorder, it is difficult to diagnose since it must be observed and reported by someone other than the sufferer.
It is estimated that sleep apnea affects as many as 18 million Americans. Further, 2 to 4% of all Americans have sleep apnea which remains undiagnosed. This amounts to one person in every fifty. Men are twice as likely as women to suffer from the disorder.
Is sleep apnea harmful?
The results of sleep apnea are manifested in daily life as chronic tiredness, irritability, lack of energy and concentration. Undiagnosed sleep apnea can lead to serious consequences like a heightened risk of stroke, heart disease, asthma, and other life-threatening diseases.
The National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research estimates that 38,000 deaths each year due to cardiovascular problems can be connected to sleep apnea.
Using a CPAP machine
Sleep apnea can be treated using a CPAP machine, which keeps nasal passages open during deep sleep. BiPAP masks work like CPAP machines but have two different pressure settings, for inhalation and exhalation.
Both CPAP machines and BiPAP masks allow users to breathe regularly while asleep, but it can be difficult to get used to sleeping with masks and nasal pillows. In fact about half of people who have CPAP machines stop using them within one to three weeks of starting.
Getting used to a CPAP machine
CPAP machines should be used at least 70% of the time, or 4 hours every night over a 30-day period, to be effective and to meet the requirements of continued insurance coverage. Yet 80% of those people who do use cpap machines don’t keep them on for long enough to stay safe.
Another common problem with CPAP machines and bipap masks is that they tend to dry out the nasal passages. Particularly for patients over the age of 60 years, heated humidification may also be required.
Using CPAP machines and BiPAP masks can take some practice, but the benefits make it worthwhile.