Sleep apnea diagnosis? Are there treatment options that can work for you?
It may be scary getting diagnosed with sleep apnea and knowing what steps to take afterward may seem impossible. However, a sleep apnea diagnosis isn’t the end of the world; there are treatment options available.
You’ve already taken the first step by getting a sleep study done. Perhaps you went because your partner was complaining about your excessive snoring or because even after a full nights sleep, you’re still exhausted. Whatever the case may be you’ve now found the source of your problem: sleep apnea.
But what exactly is sleep apnea? What are your next steps? Continue reading to learn more.
Sleep Apnea Diagnosis
According to SleepApnea.org, it is estimated that 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, with 80 percent of these cases of moderate and severe obstructive sleep apnea undiagnosed. You are now in the unfortunate minority that has been diagnosed. So what does this mean?
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat relax. When the muscles relax, your airway narrows or closes as you breathe in. This causes you to not get enough air, which can impair your ability to reach the deep, restful phases of sleep. Your brain senses your inability to breathe and briefly rouses you from sleep so that you can reopen your airway. This awakening is usually so brief that you don’t remember it; this can happen hundreds of times an hour. That means you can wake up every two minutes of your sleep! No wonder you’re so tired.
This puts a strain on your entire body which is why it causes health risks such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Sleep Apnea Treatment Options
The most common sleep apnea treatment option is a continuous positive airway pressure machine, better known as a CPAP. Since this is a medical device, it has to be approved by the FDA before it is sold and your doctor must write you a prescription for one. For that reason, thankfully, most insurance policies cover the cost of this machine.
How a CPAP machine works is that it ensures that air is always flowing so that there are no pauses in your breathing while you sleep. Some people may find the device cumbersome and uncomfortable but it is said that you get used to it after a while.
According to WebMD, there are some treatment options that can be done separately or in conjunction with a CPAP. Those treatment options include:
- Weight loss
- Avoiding alcohol and sleeping pills
- Changing sleep positions to improve breathing
- Avoiding sleeping on your back.
- Stop smoking. Smoking can increase the swelling in the upper airway, which may worsen both snoring and apnea.
It is important that once you get your CPAP machine that you learn how to clean it properly. Most CPAP machines have a built-in humidifier so that you are not breathing in dry air, however, that moist air creates the perfect conditions for mold to grow.
If left to its own devices, the accumulation of fungus, yeast, or mold may lead to irritation of the airways and lungs. Over time this can develop into an infection like bronchitis or pneumonia.
Additionally, some CPAP cleaners use ozone which can be very harmful to you and anyone in your vicinity, including pets, if it’s used incorrectly.
For a long time, ozone cleaners or soap and water were the only options available to clean CPAP devices. But after demand kept rising for a better option 3B Medical, a CPAP manufacturer, created the first ever UV-C CPAP cleaner called the Lumin.
The Lumin is safe and easy to use, with no harmful ozone which can cause irritation to the lungs and respiratory system. The UV light will disinfect up to 99% of harmful bacteria, pathogens, and fungi that can cause infection and illness.
They also created the Lumin Bullet which uses the same UV light technology.
If you recently received a sleep apnea diagnosis, know that you’re not alone. There is plenty of support and treatment options available so don’t be scared.
Additionally, sleep apnea isn’t necessarily a lifelong prognosis. If you follow the correct treatment plan for you, everyone is different, you can see improvement over time.