OSA explained

Obstructive sleep apnea is not just snoring, but actual temporary cessation of breathing. Although most sleep apnea sufferers just think they snore and are tired, others within the home can often hear the “jet engine” snore, the quiet, the gasping and the body movement in a repeating cycle. The cycle can repeat every 10 minutes or as often as every 30 seconds. What kind of sleep does a person get if they repeatedly have to fight for their very breath? Imagine the extra work the heart has to do to repeatedly fight to live! The risks of heart attack and stroke greatly increase.

So What Can I Do?

Talk to your family doctor or nurse practitioner. If your doctor or nurse practitioner suggests a sleep study, what can you expect? Once a referral to a sleep clinic is made, you will be informed of a date when you will sleep overnight at the clinic. There the sleep tech will do a check in, collecting relevant health information, and show you to your private room. They will let you know about how long you will have to wait and where toileting facilities are. It is a good idea to bring something to read or do while you wait. The sleep tech will place wires on your head and body to monitor your sleep. Don’t worry, they can’t zap you. Most people think they can’t possibly sleep with the unfamiliar environment and all those wires, but they almost always do sleep. It is really amazing how much information is gathered during that sleep test. All wires lead to a computer where your heart, breaths, sleep stages, body movements…can be monitored. Don’t worry the sleep techs can NOT see your dreams.

Compliance Tips

  • Start each night with your PAP therapy, whether you lasted minutes or hours the night before. Do not skip nights.
  • Watch T.V. with your CPAP on to get a bit more used to it
  • Contact your CPAP provider with any questions or concerns. They should be happy to offer suggestions, re-fit your mask, make adjustments to the CPAP or let you try another mask without charging a fee.
  • Maintain your equipment regularly. A clean, well-cared for system will make your therapy easier, reduce the chances of mould or bacteria buildup and help your system last longer.

Remember your PAP therapy is prescribed for a reason. Untreated OSA greatly increases the chance of cardiovascular incidents like heart attack and stroke.

Traveling with CPAP

Traveling with your CPAP system is a good idea as one night without your therapy takes you right back to “square one” with no good quality sleep.

Tips to make travel easier include:

  • Bring a copy of your prescription to show at border crossings. Keep it with the CPAP.
  • Have all CPAP equipment together with you in one carry-on bag. Since it is medical equipment it is allowed as an additional carry-on bag.
  • Do not carry water in the water chamber. Water spilling over into the CPAP machine may cause it to not start for a day or possibly not at all. As well you will not be able to carry bottles of distilled water with you on flights. Often hotel managers will be able to help you locate some when you get there.
  • Check your destination electrical hookup requirements. You may need to get an adapter plug in order to power your unit. All current CPAP units will automatically adapt their internal components with the appropriate wall plug.
  • A variety of batteries are available to power your equipment if you choose. It is NOT a good idea to use your car battery to run your CPAP. You run a good chance of not being able to start your car in the morning!
  • Smaller travel CPAPs are available if you wish to purchase one. The convenience of a tiny unit is a delight for travel.

FYI: Special masks may be required for some travel units.