Are you exhausted this morning? Are you waking up from another night of little sleep? Sleep that only occurs in small amounts, often interrupted by your spouse’s nighttime snoring caused by sleep apnea. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is a treatment that uses mild air pressure to keep airways open, even during sleep. CPAP typically is used by people who have breathing problems, such as sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a condition found in as many as an estimated 18 million Americans. Unfortunately, 2% to 4% of all Americans have undiagnosed cases of sleep apnea. This percentage accounts for approximately one in 50 individuals being undiagnosed. People who have an untreated case of sleep apnea face a risk of stroke that is four times as likely as those who are not afflicted. In addition, untreated sleep apnea sufferers are three times as likely to have heart disease.
If you suspect that your spouse or someone else in your family suffers from this condition, which can result in as many as 60 apneas per hour, you can start by using a home sleep test to begin to diagnose the problem. Once identified, sleep apnea can be treated with many safe and tested CPAP products, everything from travel CPAP machines to the most comfortable nasal pillows for your CPAP mask.
Comfortable nasal pillows are important because they increase the chance of the sleep apnea patient using a CPAP machine on a more consistent basis. Nasal pillows allow the user to avoid the use of the more full coverage of a sleep apnea mask. Preferences for nasal pillows or CPAP masks are split down the middle; 50% prefer nasal pillows, 45% favor nasal masks, and 5% of users have no preference between the two.
No matter what your preference, the most important consideration is that you find a method that is comfortable for you. Unfortunately, as many as 80% of patients who say they use their CPAP machine don’t use it enough to keep them safe.In fact, studies show that about 50% of all people prescribed CPAP machines stop using them in one to three weeks. For best results and continued insurance coverage, however, patients should use CPAP at least 70% of the time over a 30 day period, for at least 4 hours every night.
The process of diagnosing sleep apnea and beginning treatment for the condition is only part of the process of dealing with this condition. Patients must make continuous use of the supplies and the technology available to them before they, or their partners, can rest easy.