Whether you’ve already been diagnosed with a sleep disorder or suspect you may have one, it’s likely you’ve heard of CPAP therapy. Many Americans suffer from obstructive sleep apnea and other sleep disorders that require the use of CPAP therapy to improve their quality of life. It’s incredibly important to regularly monitor your sleep patterns as this will allow you to look for the signs that may mean it’s ready for CPAP therapy. From chronic fatigue and headaches upon waking to recurring sore throats and troubles sleeping, being aware of your body is the first step you can take in determining whether CPAP therapy will benefit you.
What is CPAP Therapy?
A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine is a medical device prescribed for patients by a board-certified sleep specialist. Those that utilize a CPAP machine are supplied with a constant, gentle flow of pressurized air that prevents your airway from collapsing during sleep. The continuous airflow assists the user with breathing and helps maintain healthy blood oxygen levels during sleep. Those that are prescribed a CPAP machine are recommended to use it each night for your entire sleep duration. Individuals that may need a CPAP machine are likely suffering from one of the following:
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): Snoring, gasping, or choking sounds during sleep can be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea. These noises occur because your airway relaxes more than usual, causing your airway to be blocked, meaning oxygen can’t reach your lungs. “Apneas” or blockage periods interrupt your breathing and raise your blood pressure.
- Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS): Loose tissue can reduce the size of your airway, making it more challenging for air to travel to your lungs. UARS is the phase between regular snoring and OSA, and this medical condition can be identified by heavy, labored breathing and frequent awakening. If you recognize any of these symptoms, it’s encouraged to see a medical professional because if left untreated, UARS will likely develop into OSA.
- Snoring: Many throughout the world suffer from snoring, and this common medical condition occurs due to tissue in your throat loosening and vibrating when you inhale and exhale during sleep. If you or your loved one notices snoring, it’s encouraged to track the snoring patterns to determine the frequency and if conditions are worsening. Depending on the severity, snoring can evolve into UARS, and eventually, OSA if left untreated.
CPAP machines have three main components: motor, hose, and mask. Over the years, technology has continued to advance, meaning CPAP machines available on the market today have a user-friendly design. There are varying CPAP mask styles, such as over your nose, full-face, or a nasal mask. If you suspect you may have a need for CPAP therapy, it’s encouraged to schedule an appointment with your doctor to get a sleep study.
Signs You May Need CPAP Therapy
It can be challenging to determine whether you have one of the sleep disorders above, especially if you live alone. Regardless of your situation, it’s incredibly important to monitor your sleep as best you can and keep a look out for the common signs of sleep apnea:
- Gasping and Choking
- Headaches Upon Waking
- Dry Throat and Mouth
- Sore Throat
- Trouble Sleeping
- Weight Gain
- Memory Problems
A doctor can only diagnose obstructive sleep apnea. If you suspect you may have this medical condition, it’s encouraged to schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider as soon as possible. Obstructive sleep apnea is associated with heightened risks for stroke, heart diseases, and other serious medical conditions. Your doctor will consult with you and identify whether a sleep study is necessary; you’ll be on your way to better nightly sleep in no time.
Scheduling a Sleep Study
If you or a loved one are noticing any of the symptoms listed above, it’s likely time to schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider. While hearing the results may be intimidating, getting diagnosed with UARS or OSA is the first step to improving your sleep, quality of life, and getting a CPAP machine. Your doctor will consult with you to identify any symptoms that may signify OSA or another sleep disorder. After your consultation and depending on your doctor’s findings, you may be referred to a sleep specialist to complete a sleep study. During this appointment, sleep technologists will collect and study different variables while you sleep. The collected data includes but is not limited to:
- Brain Activity
- Blood Oxygen Levels
- Heart Rate
- Eye and Leg Movements
Once your sleep study has been completed, the sleep specialist and your doctor will determine whether you are in need of a CPAP machine. In the case that you are diagnosed with OSA or UARS, a CPAP machine will likely be prescribed. Once a CPAP machine has been prescribed, a second appointment will be scheduled so you can test different CPAP machines and masks. The second test appointment is hugely beneficial as it helps your doctor determine which design and air pressure level is most suitable for your unique situation.
Book an Appointment With Your Doctor Today
Rest assured, you’re not alone. Adults and children throughout the world are diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea and other sleep disorders daily. CPAP therapy is available to improve your quality of life, well-being, and, most of all, your sleep. Technological advancements continue to be made on today’s CPAP machines, meaning you’ll have the opportunity to find the best option for your unique situation. The first step to determining whether you could benefit from CPAP therapy is identifying the symptoms and scheduling an appointment with your healthcare professional. From unexplainable weight gain and troubles remembering to excessive snoring and a dry throat or mouth, each of these symptoms could be a sign of an underlying health condition. Contact your primary healthcare provider to schedule an appointment and improve your nightly sleep today.