Sleep Apnea 101


Although it is mostly obese people who get sleep apnea, this is not the only determining factor. The structure of the face, especially the chin, plays an important role. People with a small chin and a less developed lower jaw bone are also more likely to get sleep apnea as they grow older and relax their muscles. The development of so-called musculoskeletal muscles in the throat, which keeps the airways open when a person is sleeping and prevents the throat from “falling” when the muscles relax with sleep is also important.

A very thick neck circumference is a risk factor for sleep apnea.

When is sleep apnea serious?

Up to 5 episodes of apnea per hour during sleep can be considered as normal.

5 – 15 episodes justify further attention, and can still normalize with lifestyle adjustment, i.e., losing weight, avoiding alcohol, sleeping pills, and drugs, do not sleep on the back, strengthen the neck muscles with exercise (even tight walking and jogging can improve the neck muscles).

Where to do the test?

Your general practitioner may recommend you. The sleep study is usually done by a technician under the supervision of an intern or an ear, nose and throat doctor.

Types of C-PAP machines and costs: There are a wide variety of C-PAP machines online that are marketed by different companies. The prices also vary. Some companies have second-hand machines available at a lower price.

Many of the medical funds pay for the investigation, and then for the machine if the test is positive. It depends on the fund option you have chosen. In all cases, the medical aid must be pre-authorized.

Nose bleeding:

Nose bleeding due to the positive pressure that the machine exerts on the nose is due to the dry air, especially in winter and especially in the interior. Some machines have a moisturizer that prevents dehydration of the nasal mucosa. A larger type of mask sometimes helps. A cortisone nasal spray may also be of value.

What if the mask makes me too nervous?

Many people mentioned that they are so distressed with the mask on the face that they can not use it at all. If the entire process is followed correctly, it often eliminates this problem.

A sleep study should be done in several phases:

1) Sleeping at night with the sleep machine measures the number and length of periods when the patient stops breathing. This should be measured for a full night and is usually done in the hospital. It can also be done outside the hospital under controlled conditions due to cost implications.

2) If the test is then positive for sleep apnea, a follow-up study is performed with calibration, i.e., it is determined at what pressure the C-PAP machine should be set for a particular patient. Ideally, the patient sleeps 4 – 5 nights at home, in his/her own bed, with a machine and the pressure is adjusted until he/she is comfortable. Different sizes of masks are being tried to find the most ideal one. These services are usually provided by a neurophysiology technician and include the patient being monitored to ensure that the patient is well adapted to treatment.

Unfortunately, in some centers, a so-called “split” assessment is done, that is, half the night, the number of apnea episodes is measured, and if positive then the calibration with a C -PAP machine is done. The patient does not have time to get used to the machine, the pressure at which the air is blown is not calculated correctly and is sometimes too high, and no attention is paid to the mask’s fit.

If you are going for a sleep study, first make sure how it is done, what types of machines and masks use the particular center, how long the adjustment period is, etc.

The person who does the study should give you complete information about everything you want to know, how serious your apnea is, where to buy the machine and the accessories.

It is also VERY IMPORTANT to ensure the maintenance service is provided by the particular company, and the neurophysiological technician is available if you experience problems.

One can adapt even in very uncomfortable circumstances if the motivation is available. For example, start with just an hour a night, gradually increase the time until you are used to it. In patients with sleep apnea who are well-accustomed to their C-PAP machine, remarkable results are seen.

It may also help you to use a tranquilizer for the first few nights while adjusting to the CPAP machine.

Disadvantages of a C-PAP machine

This is, of course, limited to some extent, but people find the benefits more than the disadvantages.

The machine is electrically powered by a power plug and makes some noise, which may be disturbing to your bed size. (It is, however, a lot quieter than snoring!

What are other ways there to improve sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea cannot be treated with any medicine. This is usually a mechanical problem that must be approached mechanically.

The following can help:

Lose weight if you are overweight
Never lay on your back and sleep because, then, the chin falls back and blocks the airways.
Avoid alcohol, sleeping pills, and any drugs at night
Light exercise like walking and jogging can also help strengthen the neck and throat muscles.


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